Former St. Louis priest charged with new crimes

10 months 3 weeks 3 days ago Saturday, February 23 2019 Feb 23, 2019 Saturday, February 23, 2019 7:01:00 PM CST February 23, 2019 in News
By: The Associated Press

CLAYTON (AP) — A former Catholic priest is facing new charges a decade after being declared sexually violent and admitting he abused about 30 boys in Illinois, California and Missouri.

Fred Lenczycki, 74, of the Chicago suburb of Berkeley, Illinois, was charged Thursday in Missouri with two counts each of deviate sexual assault and sodomy. Charging documents allege he repeatedly grabbed one boy's genitals and tried to force another boy to expose himself in the early 1990s in the St. Louis suburb of Bridgeton.

The documents say the allegations fit "within the pattern of abuse perpetrated by the defendant over many years," the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Authorities said Lenczycki has not been taken into custody in Missouri. A man who answered the phone at his home address in Illinois declined comment to The Associated Press on Friday. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Bail in the case is set at $500,000 cash only.

Lenczycki was removed from the ministry in 2002, when he was charged with sexually abusing three boys at a church in Hinsdale, Illinois, in the mid-1980s. He later pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual abuse and was released from custody in 2009 after becoming the first priest in the country to be declared sexually violent. Victims told authorities that "Father Fred" repeatedly molested them, often using the pretense of swaddling them in "Baby Jesus" costumes for pageants that never took place.

After the parents of one of victim complained, Lenczycki was transferred to California and then Missouri. As documented in diocese and court files, Lenczycki admitted molesting about 30 boys over 25 years. Multiple civil lawsuits have been filed.

"We're deeply grateful to both the victim for having the courage to report and law enforcement for having the will to pursue charges," said David Clohessy with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "He's obviously a very dangerous man, and shame on every church official who knew of or suspected his crimes and ignored or hid them."

The latest charges against Lenczycki were filed as victims of clergy sexual abuse demand more accountability and transparency from the Catholic church. The Vatican convened a sexual abuse summit Thursday to hear the testimony of several victims.

___

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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