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Former Key Largo Priest Found Guilty of Abusing Boy

Dec 20, 2002 | AP

A priest who headed St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church here for 14 years was found guilty Wednesday in Detroit of four counts of indecent liberties with an 11-year-old boy more than 30 years ago.

The Rev. Edward Olszewski, 69, faces up to 10 years in prison on each count. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30.

The Roman Catholic priest was found not guilty of four counts of sodomy on his accuser, Albert Green, 44, who was under the priest's care three decades ago in Wayne County, Mich.

St. Justin parishioners reacted with pain upon hearing of the verdict Wednesday afternoon.

"We're all in shock," said Shirley Sassano, a secretary for St. Justin.

Father Fernando Heria, who was sent to administer St. Justin on behalf of Olszewski last April, said he fully expects an appeal to the ruling.

"For all of us, this is a moment of unbelief," said the priest, who once practiced law as a defense attorney in South Florida. "Three people know the truth: Father Ed, Mr. Green and God. [Wednesday night] we will hold a special prayer meeting and pray for Father Ed and Mr. Green."

Olszewski, who resigned his position last April when the allegations surfaced, had the support of at least four St. Justin members who flew to Detroit at their own expense to testify on his behalf.

Lee Ganim, a prominent Upper Keys' businessman and an ordained Catholic priest, was one of those who flew up Monday from Key Largo to testify for Olszewski.

Green said the misconduct took place in the early 1970s at St. Cecilia's rectory when Green and his two brothers were brought there because their mother was ill.

Olszewski moved from Michigan in the late 1970s to work as a priest in Florida. He was put on administrative leave from the Archdiocese of Miami after stepping down from his Key Largo parish last spring.

He had maintained his innocence and said he looked forward to his day in court to prove it and stated that Green had been stalking him and asking for help whenever he got into trouble with the law and drugs.

Prosecutors say they were able to charge Olszewski because he moved out of Michigan before the statute of limitations expired, stopping the clock as the years passed.

At the time of the alleged crime, Michigan law required charges to be brought within six years of an offense.

Olszewski's attorney, S. Allen Early, said the only allegations against Olszewski came from Green.

Green, who now resides in Washington State, said during the trial that the alleged molestation happened "at nighttime when my brothers were in bed."

A woman who was a housekeeper at St. Cecilia's at the time testified that she didn't witness any abuse take place.

At least 30 Catholic priests in Michigan have been removed, suspended or left their duties since the beginning of 2002 amid sexual abuse or misconduct allegations. At least 17 of those cases involved a minor.

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