Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sexually violent priest released from custody

Sexually violent priest released from custody
September 24, 2009 11:49 AM | 17 Comments | UPDATED STORY
A Roman Catholic priest with a history that includes abusing as many as 30 boys, many from Chicago's suburbs, was freed from state custody this morning and will continue treatment as an outpatient.

Fred Lenczycki, 65, the first priest in the country to be declared sexually violent, left the DuPage County courthouse after a judge signed off on a treatment plan. Lenczycki was accompanied by a conditional release supervisor. State officials said that he will be living in Cook County, not with a family member, and that the people in charge of his future treatment will register him at a local police station today as a child sex offender.

The exact details of his treatment plan and his residence were not released this morning. DuPage Judge Bonnie Wheaton impounded the case file last year to protect the identity of the abuse victims.

"There will be a lot of people watching you," Wheaton told Lenczycki this morning. "This case engendered a lot of media attention and you will be closely monitored.

"You have a heavy responsibility," she continued. "The people in (the state treatment facility in) Rushville are counting on you to show how you act. You owe it to the people who were young, the victims, you owe them the responsibility. Don't disappoint them.

"The court is going out on a limb. I decided this case not as a criminal case, but as a mental health case."

Lenczycki, dressed in a sweater and slacks, said "yes" several times and within minutes was released by the security guards of the Department of Human Services who brought him to the courthouse from Rushville. Lenczycki left in a pickup truck driven by a conditional release agent who is to assist him in acclimating to his freedom. All Lenczycki appeared to be carrying was a medium-size gym bag.

According to testimony from a previous court hearing, Lenczycki will be under tight supervision and severe restrictions, including remaining under home confinement for at least 30 days and then be required to wear a GPS ankle bracelet. State officials are to be notified of places he plans to go.

Wheaton also denied a request from Assistant Illinois Attorney General Joelle Marasco to delay his release while an appeal of Wheaton's earlier decision was still being considered. Wheaton is to receive a status update on his progress in six months.

Lenczycki was sentenced to 5 years in prison in 2004 after pleading guilty to sexually abusing three boys from St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Hinsdale in the 1980s.

Lenczycki was due to be released after 2½ years. But he remained in custody after a DuPage jury in 2008 declared him sexually violent under provisions of a decade-old state act.

James Montgomery, Lenczycki's defense attorney, previously told Wheaton, "Fred will be under the total control of the court."

Montgomery has said that of over 300 legally declared sexually violent persons in Illinois, "25 to 27 have been released" from state treatment facilities. The others remain institutionalized. Of those released, only "two to four" have been placed back into the secured treatment facilities, he said.

Lenczycki had been receiving treatment at a state-run facility in Rushville, Ill.

At the 2008 hearing, prosecutors said Lenczycki admitted abusing as many as 30 youths in Hinsdale, Naperville and Romeoville and in California and Missouri.

Doug Delaney, executive assistant for Bishop J. Peter Sartain of the Diocese of Joliet, said Lenczycki was removed from ministry in 2002.

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