SAGINAW, Michigan— A Michigan priest who is on administrative leave while church officials investigate an allegation of misconduct with a minor says he’s innocent.
Father Dennis Kucharczyk told The Saginaw News in an interview published online Tuesday that he was made “to look like a pervert” and his reputation and credibility damaged when the Diocese of Saginaw announced his suspension from the ministry in May.
“I have been called to serve the diocese,” said Kucharczyk. “I want to continue to serve the diocese as a priest. That’s been my calling. I’m concerned about what the diocese is doing to me. What about me? What about what I have given to the diocese and the parishes? Doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t that mean anything? Don’t I matter?”
Diocese spokeswoman Erin Looby Carlson says an investigation by the diocese and law enforcement is ongoing. The diocese has said the alleged misconduct “occurred many years ago.”
The 61-year-old Kucharczyk is pastor of St. John XXIII Parish, which includes Hemlock, Merrill and Ryan churches. He also served churches in Caro, Caseville, Pinnebog, Midland, Linwood and Saginaw.
“For my 34 years as a priest and eight years as a seminarian, I made the commitment to the Saginaw Diocese and to the people of the Saginaw Diocese,” he told the newspaper. “I have done a very good job of service.”
However, the priest said he has been abandoned by the diocese.
“Who cares about me?” Kucharczyk told the Saginaw News. “What about the diocese I made my promises to and committed my life to? Does it give a damn? Do I just get hung out to dry, get the book thrown at me, and get ostracized?”
Supporters last week held a rally on his behalf.
“I haven’t been part of any of the planning,” Kucharzyk told the newspaper about his supporters’ efforts.
Crux staff contributed to this report.
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