ST. LOUIS – The man who was the first AMERICAN priest to be labeled sexually violent crimes in Illinois has the admission of abuse of two boys in Missouri.
Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of sodomy for crimes that have taken place in the beginning of the 1990s, when he worked at a parish in the north of St. Louis County. Church and court files show that Lenczycki admitted abusing more than 30 boys in Illinois, Missouri and California for more than 25 years.
Lenczycki, now 74 and living in a suburb of Chicago, admitted in the latter case, to grab the genitals of a boy and tries to force the other to themselves. The crimes occurred from 1991 to 1994. Lenczycki was charged in February , and he is scheduled to be sentenced in August.
One of the Missouri victims, the 38-year-old Ron Kanady, said Thursday that the guilty plea was justification.
“I am so relieved that justice finally, don’t give up on me,” Kanady told The Associated Press. “For all these years, people looked the other way, it felt like. And now, finally, something is being done.”
Lenczycki was removed from the ministry in 2002, when he was indicted for sexual abuse of three boys in the 1980s in a church in Hinsdale, Illinois. The Illinois victims told authorities, “Father Fred” repeatedly abused them, often using the pretext of swaddling them in “Baby Jesus” costumes for pageants, that has never happened.
He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2008, a year before his release, he became the first AMERICAN priest to be labeled sexually violent when he is under Illinois’ Sexually Violent Commitment Act.
Lenczycki’s attorney, Matthew Radefeld, refused to comment.
Victims of clergy sexual abuse have asked for more accountability and transparency from the Catholic church since last year, when a Pennsylvania report detailed seven decades of sexual abuse of children by more than 300 predator priests. The Vatican convened a sexual abuse summit in February to hear the testimony of a number of victims.
In addition to the criminal cases, Lenczycki is named in several lawsuits.