Priest Removed from Ministry

By Lena Khzouz
The News-Herald
June 11, 2006

A priest who served at St. Cyril of Jerusalem Catholic Church in Taylor from the mid-1970s through 1989 has been rendered permanently inactive from the ministry.

The Archdiocese of Detroit announced Monday that the Vatican permanently removed the Rev. Edmund Borycz from active ministry after investigations into alleged sexual misconduct. He has been prohibited from wearing clerical clothes or publicly presenting himself as a priest.

During the past several years, many allegations have been made about priests around the country. Several have served Downriver.

At the time Borycz was removed from his parish in 2002, he was serving at St. Michael in Livonia.

Allegations against Borycz include the molestation of a then 13-year-old boy in the rectory at St. Cyril in 1983. The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and Taylor police first heard about the incident in 1987.

Then, Taylor police had presented a warrant request against Borycz for the alleged criminal sexual conduct with the boy. A former assistant prosecutor reviewed the request, denied it and directed Taylor police to seal their file without contacting the archdiocese.

Before coming to St. Cyril, Borycz spent five years as associate pastor of SS. Peter and Paul in Detroit.

On April 26, 2002, the archdiocese gave civil authorities a report of a different man who said he was sexually molested by Borycz when, as a 13-year-old, he slept overnight at the SS. Peter and Paul rectory in 1970.

After investigators from the prosecutor's office interviewed the alleged victim from 1970 and found him to be credible, they began interviewing at St. Cyril, where they learned of the 1987 warrant request. But by that time, the prosecutor's office had no record of it.

According to a copy of the file that Taylor police gave prosecutors, in 1987 a 19-year-old who tried to commit suicide ended up in treatment. At that facility he confided to a social worker that he had been sexually molested by his pastor, Borycz, while staying at St. Cyril's rectory.

The social worker reported the matter to police, who then presented the warrant request to the prosecutor.

In 2002, investigators interviewed the alleged victim of the 1987 incident, who gave a detailed account of being sexually molested by Borycz. Both victims' details were very similar. At the time, investigators considered both victims credible.

While in Taylor, Borycz made an impact on the community. When installed as pastor, he was widely known for his work with the mentally retarded.

He also was a police chaplain in Taylor and was sent to an FBI hostage negotiations school.

He was released to the archdiocese for military service in 1989, after enlisting in the Army. He became one of only 148 priests worldwide who ministered to the military. By 1993, he held the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He began in the Livonia parish in 2001.

Several other priests who served Downriver also have been accused of wrongdoing, including the following:

lFormer priest Harry Benjamin III. Made a layman in 1992, he had served as associate pastor of St. Timothy Catholic Church in Trenton in 1979.

lJason Sigler, who also has been laicized, never served Downriver but was accused of four counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and four in the second degree for allegedly assaulting a then-12-year-old boy in River Rouge and other places. Sigler was born in River Rouge in 1939.

lThe Rev. Alfred Miller served at St. Mary in Monroe, at St. Frances Cabrini in Allen Park and at St. Patrick in Wyandotte.

lThe Rev. Gary Bueche served at Cabrini from 1988 to 1998 and resigned in April 2002 from a Washington Township parish.

lThe Rev. Jude Ellinghausen served at St. Timothy in Trenton from 1964 to 1969.

lThe Rev. Walter Lezuchowski served at St. Albert the Great in Dearborn Heights in 1969 and at St. Aloysius in Romulus in 1979.

Like Borycz, they have been permanently removed from ecclesiastical ministry and cannot wear clerical clothes or publicly present themselves as priests.

lThe Rev. Dennis Laesch was removed from active ministry from St. Alfred in Taylor in the spring of 2002 after working there beginning in 2000.

The archdiocese awaits disposition of his case from Rome.

lThe Rev. Gary Dennis Berthiaume spent six months in jail in 1978 after being convicted of gross indecency and later continued to serve as a priest in other states.

He served at St. Joseph in Wyandotte from 1968 to '73, but was arrested in 1977 after allegedly molesting a boy during a time when he worked at Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington.


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