ST. LOUIS, Missouri — The man who became the first U.S. priest to be labeled sexually violent for crimes in Illinois has admitted abusing two boys in Missouri.
Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of sodomy for crimes that occurred in the early 1990s, when he was serving at a parish in north St. Louis County. Church and court files show that Lenczycki admitted abusing up to 30 boys in Illinois, Missouri and California over 25 years.
Lenczycki, now 74 and living in suburban Chicago, admitted in the latest case to grabbing the genitals of one boy and trying to force the other to expose himself. 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, 38-year-old Ron Kanady, said Thursday that the guilty plea was vindication.
“I am so relieved that justice finally didn’t give up on me,” Kanady told The Associated Press. “For all those years, people looked the other way, it felt like. And now, finally, something’s being done.”
Lenczycki was removed from ministry in 2002 when he was charged with sexually abusing three boys in the 1980s at a church in Hinsdale, Illinois. The Illinois victims told authorities “Father Fred” repeatedly molested them, often using the pretense of swaddling them in “Baby Jesus” costumes for pageants that never took place.
He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2008, a year before his release, he became the first U.S. priest to be labeled sexually violent when he was committed under Illinois’ Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.
Lenczycki’s attorney, Matthew Radefeld, declined comment.
Victims of clergy sexual abuse have demanded more accountability and transparency from the Catholic Church since last year, when a Pennsylvania report detailed seven decades of child sexual abuse by more than 300 predator priests. The Vatican convened a sexual abuse summit in February to hear the testimony of several victims.
In addition to the criminal cases, Lenczycki is named in several lawsuits.
Crux is dedicated to smart, wired and independent reporting on the Vatican and worldwide Catholic Church. That kind of reporting doesn’t come cheap, and we need your support. You can help Crux by giving a small amount monthly, or with a onetime gift. Please remember, Crux is a for-profit organization, so contributions are not tax-deductible.