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Priest Guilty In Mich. Child Abuse Case

Dec 18, 2002 | AP

A Roman Catholic priest was found guilty and another pleaded no contest Wednesday to sexual misconduct involving boys decades ago, in cases filed under an exception to the statute of limitations.

A jury found the Rev. Edward Olszewski guilty of four counts of indecent liberties with a minor child and innocent of four counts of sodomy.

Separately, Jason Sigler, who voluntarily left the priesthood in 1982, pleaded no contest to criminal sexual misconduct involving two boys in the Detroit area.

In 1983, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, N.M., agreed to pay $13 million to settle more than 20 sex abuse lawsuits against Sigler.

Olszewski's accuser, Albert Green, testified the misconduct took place in the early 1970s at St. Cecilia's rectory. Green, now 44, and his two brothers had moved into the rectory after social workers placed the boys in Olszewski's care because their mother was ill.

Green, who now lives in Washington state, testified the molestation happened "at nighttime when my brothers (went) to bed."

A housekeeper at St. Cecilia's testified that she didn't witness any abuse.

Olszewski, who moved to Florida in the late 1970s, was forced to step down from his Key Largo, Fla., parish in the spring.

Olszewski, 69, maintained his innocence and said Green had been stalking him and asking him for help whenever he got into trouble with the law and drugs.

At the time of the alleged crime, state law required charges to be brought within six years of an offense. However, prosecutors said they were able to charge Olszewski because he left Michigan before the statute of limitations expired. The same criteria applied to Sigler.

Olszewski's attorney, S. Allen Early, said he would appeal.

Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Lindsey praised the jury for its impartiality. "They were not swayed by the prestige and authority of the Catholic Church," she said.

Sentencing was set for Jan. 30. Olszewski faces up to 10 years in prison on each conviction.

Sigler, 64, served as a priest in Michigan during the 1960s and 1970s before moving to New Mexico.

His plea Wednesday involved sexual misconduct with boys ages 12 and 13 in River Rouge, just outside Detroit. Under a plea agreement, he will serve a year in jail and five years probation.

At least 30 Catholic priests in Michigan have been removed, suspended or have left their duties since Jan. 1 amid sexual abuse or misconduct allegations. Some of the cases are under review. At least 17 of the cases involved a minor.


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