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March 2, 2010

Retired Priest Faces Sex Assault Charges

by Erica Bajeer, QMI Agency, The London Free Press

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CHATHAM -- A retired priest is charged after complaints of sexual assaults that took place about 40 years ago.

An investigation was launched in November after a man came forward with allegations of molestation against retired priest Piotr Sanczenko, said Insp. George Flikweert, head of the Chatham-Kent police major crime unit.

"During the course of our investigation, we learned of a second (alleged) victim," he said.

He said both male complainants were under age 12 at the time of the allegations.

"There was physical contact between the accused and the two alleged victims . . . It was sexual in nature," Flikweert alleged. "They occurred in his role as a priest."

He said the incidents are alleged to have taken place when Sanczenko, 83, served at Our Lady of Victory Church in Chatham from 1963-1973. Because the investigation continues, Flikweert declined comment on details of the alleged incidents.

The inspector said investigators want to speak with anyone who has information about other possible incidents or knows anything that could assist in the investigation.

People are asked to call the major crime unit at 519-436-6616. Anonymous callers can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Flikweert said both men have moved out of Chatham-Kent.

Sanczenko, who turned himself in to police Saturday, was released from custody. He is to appear in court May 4.

Mark Adkinson, director of communications with the Catholic Diocese of London, said "these are the only allegations of improper conduct by Rev. Sanczenko that we have received."

He said the diocese takes all allegations seriously and has co-operated fully with police."

We're sad to hear the news about Father Piotr's arrest," he said. "It's disappointing, but we're going to co-operate with authorities, which we have been doing."

Adkinson said Sanczenko served at the following parishes: Our Lady of Czestochowa, London (1954-1963), Holy Trinity, Windsor (1963-1964), Our Lady of Victory, Chatham (1964-1973), Our Lady of Czestochowa, London (1973-1983), Holy Trinity, Windsor (1983-2003) as well as St. Michael, Windsor (2000-2003). He has resided in Windsor since his retirement in 2003.

Adkinson said the complainants in the case have been offered counselling.

"We pray for them," he said.

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