UPDATED on Friday with more information about Lenczycki's previous offenses and a statement from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
ST. LOUIS COUNTY • New assault charges have been filed alleging a priest assaulted a boy in the early 1990s in St. Louis County.
Fred Lenczycki, 74, now faces two charges of deviate sexual assault and two counts of sodomy.
Lenczycki is a known sexual predator with multiple allegations in three states from several years when he was active as a priest.
He was removed from ministry in 2002 and later laicized.
He is currently listed in the Illinois sex offender registry as “sexually violent,” having been convicted of acts of aggravated sexual abuse against victims younger than 13. He has admitted to victimizing around 30 young boys over 25 years. He currently lives in Berkeley, Ill., in suburban Chicago.
According to the charges filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court on Thursday, between January 1991 and December 1994 Lenczycki abused a boy younger than 14 by grabbing his genitals on multiple occasions, and abused a second boy by trying to force the boy to expose himself. The abuse reportedly happened in the 12300 block of DePaul Drive in Bridgeton.
Online listings by a law firm that advocates for sexual abuse victims say he was assigned to the DePaul Health Center in that block in the 1990s and until 2002. Those listings also say Lenczycki’s other local assignments in the 1990s included the Church of North America Martyrs Rectory in Florissant and St. Blaise Parish in Maryland Heights in the 1990s.
Charging documents note that the abuse described by the victims “fits within the pattern of abuse perpetrated by the defendant over many years.”
Lenczycki was sentenced to five years in prison in 2004 after pleading guilty to sexually abusing three boys at an Illinois parish in the 1980s, according to the Chicago Tribune. He was released in 2009, though he remains under court supervision.
In 2008, Lenczycki was the first clergy member committed under Illinois’ Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, which allows prosecutors to seek commitment in a state facility of sex offenders they believe will re-offend.
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis is saddened to hear about these new allegations," St. Louis church officials said in an emailed statement Friday. "The archdiocese acted immediately in 2002 when it was first learned of Fred Lenczycki’s terrible acts, having him recalled to the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois where he was removed from ministry. The archdiocese has not found evidence of any complaints made in regards to these new allegations. While all of Lenczycki’s personnel file resides with the Diocese of Joliet, we support law enforcement in the effort to investigate these allegations.”
David Clohessy, advocate for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that while he knows of Lenczycki, the predator priest isn’t yet infamous enough. Parishioners deserve to know, he said.
“We’re deeply grateful to both the victim for having the courage to report and law enforcement for having the will to pursue charges,” Clohessy said. “He’s obviously a very dangerous man, and shame on every church official who knew of or suspected his crimes and ignored or hid them.”
Victim’s advocate Jeff Anderson said he had worked to bring at least half a dozen allegations against Lenczycki to light over the years.
“(Lenczycki) is an incredibly dangerous offender, and the more that can be known about him the more likely he will be put behind bars,” Anderson said. “The number of kids he actually violated is not known, but he’s among the most dangerous perverse serial predators.”
Advocates say allegations of sexual abuse by priests, including Lenczycki, are often swept under the rug by church officials for years. In Lenczycki’s case, he was moved from Illinois, to Missouri, and then California, continuing to act as a priest despite allegations of abuse brought to the attention of church officials. Records of abuse allegations span from 1979 to the early ’90s and weren’t made public until the early 2000s, advocates said.
These newest charges against Lenczycki come during a time when victims of sexual abuse at the hands of church officials have demanded accountability and transparency from the Catholic church. The Vatican convened a sexual abuse summit on Thursday to hear the testimony of several victims.
Anderson said he hoped the new charges against Lenczycki would encourage more victims to come forward.
“I know there are many more out there,” Anderson said. “He had very peculiar predatory ways he acted with these kids and toward these kids ... a lot of people he did violate are probably still suffering in silence.”
Bail for Lenczycki, who was not in custody Thursday, was set at $500,000 cash only.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.