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New Evidence Against Detroit Priest

Oct 11, 2002 |

A Florida firefighter has kept a terrible childhood secret for 27 years, but now he's coming forward and a former Detroit priest may have a harder time beating the rap.

The firefighter is now 40 years old and authorities say he never told a soul he was molested repeatedly by a priest when he was just a boy. He came forward after he read about the legal troubles of another accused priest in a Florida newspaper and spotted the name of the man who abused him.

The Wayne County Prosecutor says this development falls in the category of God working in mysterious ways. He also says former priest Jason Sigler won't be able to hide behind the statute of limitations this time, as three new counts first degree criminal sexual conduct are filed against him.

Jason Sigler is already facing four counts each of first and second degree criminal sexual conduct, the result of allegations he abused a 12-year-old boy in the mid 60's. The new allegations come from a man who attended St. Mary Magdalen in Hazel Park when he was a boy. In 1975, when he was 13-years-old, he charges the then Detroit priest molested him.

"He drove him to what was Father Sigler's house, apparently Father Sigler lived with his grandmother in River Rouge. And on a number of occasions drove the 13-year-old boy to his house in River Rouge where Father Sigler performed oral sex on boy," said Wayne County Prosecutor Michael Duggan.

The original charges are being challenged by Sigler's defense, which says the statute of limitations ran out. The prosecutor considers the second victim to be a God send because, he says, there will be no question about the statute of limitations in this case.

"And since we now have by their own admission that he did not leave the state until 1976, we have a charge with an extremely credible, married firefighter for an incidence that occurred in 1975," Duggan said.

The prosecutor says the man's mother encouraged the close relationship with the priest, believing Sigler would be a good influence on her son. He remained silent about the abuse all these years fearing she'd feel guilty about her role.

Sigler's lawyer says any time you are dealing with allegations from this far back, the six year statute of limitations will be an issue. Sigler resigned from the priesthood in 1982 and lives in New Mexico with his wife of 20 years.

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