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Prosecutor, Church Determine Status Of Accused Priests

Jun 20, 2002 | The Detroit News

We will soon know the status of all active priests accused of sexual misconduct in Wayne County. That is the word from the Wayne County prosecutor. The investigation of files handed over by the Detroit Archdiocese is now complete.

When the prosecutors office began this investigation a month ago, five priests accused of sexual misconduct were still active within the Archdiocese of Detroit. Now with the investigation completed, the prosecutor's office says three of the priests are still active, and now the prosecutor's office expects the archdiocese to do something about them.

Wayne County Prosecutor Mike Duggan's investigation focused on five priests accused of sexual misconduct who were still active as late as last month. Duggan's investigation led to one priest, Walter Lezuchowski, being removed from a parish in Clinton Township in early May, after credible allegations surfaced against him.

Another priest has been cleared of any wrong doing. And today the Wayne County prosecutor's office forwarded new allegations of sexual misconduct against the three remaining active priests to the Archdiocese of Detroit.

"Additional victims have come forward alleging sexual abuse and we have forwarded that information to archdiocese," Duggan explained.

"What is your expectation of the archdiocese now?" Channel 7's Ray Sayah asked.

"Oh, I'm confident the archdiocese is going to do the right thing."

Duggan expects the archdiocese to remove the unnamed priest, but he has agreed to give the archdiocese until July 1 to review the completed investigation.

"The archdiocese has been great. And I talked to Monsignor Hurley today. He is very anxious to get these, we have been working hand in hand."

Duggan says once the archdiocese make its decision on the accused priests, the prosecutor's office will consider moving forward with criminal charges against one of the priest.

"Will these priests be prosecuted?" Sayah asked Duggan.

"At least two of them are beyond the statute of limitations, but at least if the archdiocese deems fit, they won't be in a place where they can victimize anybody else. In the third case, there's a possibility of a criminal charge, and we're pursuing that."

Action News spoke with a representative of the archdiocese, and he says if these allegations are credible, the three active priests will be immediately put on leave and the archdiocese will begin its own investigation to see if permanent removal is the right course of action. The archdiocese and the prosecutor's office will have a joint news conference with some decisions on July 1.

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