April 08, 2006

Critics upset as priest nears parole

The Herald News

By Ted Slowik
staff writer

DIXON A Joliet Diocese priest's release from prison after serving a sentence for sexually abusing young boys is prompting criticism that Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch gave a sexual predator continued access to children.

The Rev. Fred Lenczycki, 61, pleaded guilty in January 2004 to criminal sexual abuse of three boys under age 13 and was sentenced to five years in prison. He is scheduled to be paroled Tuesday from the Dixon Correctional Center, a medium-security facility in northwest Illinois.

Lenczycki was convicted of molesting altar boys at St. Isaac Jogues parish in Hinsdale in 1984. When reports of misconduct surfaced, Imesch sent Lenczycki for counseling, then reassigned him to ministries in Missouri and California. Allegations continued. At St. Peter's Parish in Pacifica, Calif., prosecutors in 2002 investigated allegations that Lenczycki molested other boys.

"The church's own conduct in removing the defendant and placing him out of state gave us the ability to charge the defendant because the defendant was not an Illinois resident, and therefore, the otherwise three-year statute of limitations did not run," DuPage County State's Attorney Joseph Birkett said at the time of Lenczycki's sentencing.

Posted by kshaw at April 8, 2006 09:02 AM