A former DuPage County priest already facing sexual abuse charges molested a teenage boy after dressing him like Jesus Christ and taking his picture, an attorney for the victim said Wednesday.
The Rev. Fred Lenczycki abused the teen “on a regular and repeated basis” between 1980 and 1983, when Lenczycki was a priest at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church in Hinsdale, according to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in DuPage County civil court.
The eight-count lawsuit also accuses the Diocese of Joliet and Bishop Joseph L. Imesch of covering up widespread clergy abuse and creating an environment that taught parishioners that “good” Catholics didn’t report misconduct.
Attorneys for the victim, who is now in his 30s and lives in rural Illinois, are seeking more than $50,000 in damages per count.
In a statement, attorney Marc Pearlman said that on about a dozen occasions, Lenczycki of Glen Ellyn dressed the teen – then 14 to 17 years old – in robes to make him look like Christ. He took photos before abusing him, Pearlman stated.
The victim didn’t report the abuse at the time because he had been brought up to believe priests wouldn’t engage in criminal behavior and that he “was somehow the guilty party,” the lawsuit states.
He came forward recently after hearing other reports of clergy abuse, Pearlman said.
Lenczycki’s defense attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Lenczycki, who has been suspended from his duties since April 2002, is scheduled to go to trial in DuPage County next month on charges he abused three former altar boys at the St. Isaac in 1984, when the boys were 12.
The Joliet diocese transferred Lenczycki to a church in Missouri in 1985 after the parents of one of the boys complained. Lenczycki was given counseling but the church never notified authorities.
At the time, prosecutors have said, the complaints only involved voyeuristic conduct.
John Cullen, a spokesman for the diocese, has defended the way the case was handled, saying decisions were made based on the information church leaders had at the time.
Imesch, who was installed as bishop in 1979, didn’t know the full extent of the allegations at the time they were made, Cullen has said.
Cullen could not be reached for comment Wednesday.