Catholic priest removed in 2009 from two churches amid allegations he abused teen is now a director at Eastpointe center for teens that he cofounded
A Catholic priest removed from churches in metro Detroit after he was accused of sexually abusing a teenager is now the development director of a new Catholic center in Eastpointe he cofounded that counsels pregnant teenagers, prompting calls for him to step down.
The Rev. Kenneth Kaucheck, 69, was banned from public ministry by the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2009 after church officials determined he had sexual misconduct in the 1970s with a 16-year-old girl he was counseling as a priest.
Kaucheck is now a director at the Gianna House Pregnancy and Parenting Residence, next to St. Veronica Catholic Church in Eastpointe. Opened last year in a former convent, the center takes in teenagers and young women who are pregnant, assisting them and any children they might later have.
The website for Gianna House says it “is a sacred sanctuary for its residents, each of whom deserve to continue the life of her unborn child in an environment imbued with spiritual grace, emotional and social support, and knowledge.” The website says its “Board has been selected by Father Ken Kaucheck and Sister Mary Diane Masson to provide a wide range of ideas and skills.”
Joe Kohn, director of public relations for the Archdiocese of Detroit, told the Free Press last week that Kaucheck’s “position at Gianna House violates the restrictions placed on his ministry in 2009. We assert that he should not be allowed to continue in this position.” The archdiocese and advocates for children who are abused by priests are calling for Gianna House to remove Kaucheck.
Kohn said that Kaucheck could be removed under Catholic canon law.
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), said in a statement last month that it’s disconcerting that “a priest who was ousted because he molested a girl now works for a nonprofit that reportedly helps girls.”
“It’s inexcusable for any nonprofit to hire a credibly accused child molesting cleric. A simple Google search would have shown that Fr. Ken is potentially dangerous and should never be given any position or title that confers respect, much less gives him access to vulnerable people.”
Clohessy said there’s a pattern of Catholic officials allowing suspended priests to resurface in other roles, sometimes around children. Prosecutors declined to press charges against Kaucheck in 2009 because they said the girl was at the age of legal consent.
Clohessy also criticized the archdiocese and Archbishop Allen Vigneron for not being more active in alerting Catholics about Kaucheck.
Clohessy said that “Vigneron’s irresponsible secrecy is one reason” why Gianna House’s board chairman, Dr. Robert Welch, “says he was unaware of the accusation against Fr. Kaucheck and Fr. Kaucheck’s suspension.”
Welch told the Macomb Daily that he was not aware of Kaucheck’s history, calling it “shocking news.” Attempts by the Free Press to reach Welch at local hospitals and offices were unsuccessful.
A woman who answered the phone at Gianna House said she would not comment on Kaucheck and would not leave a message for its officials. E-mails sent to Sister Mary Diane Masson, executive director of Gianna House, and Sister Theresa Mayrand, associate director of Gianna House, were not returned. Kaucheck could not be reached for comment.
Masson and Kaucheck were listed as cofounders of Gianna House on the House website, and Kaucheck was also listed as an ex-officio member of its board of directors.
Kaucheck was ordained in 1976 and had served as a pastor or associate pastor at churches in Clawson, Dearborn, Detroit, Troy, Grosse Pointe Woods and Ferndale, according to information from the archdiocese. In 2008, he was appointed pastor at St. Mary Parish in Royal Oak and St. James Parish in Ferndale.
In 2009, a woman came forward with allegations that Kaucheck abused her when he was counseling her at Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson in 1976, when she was a teen.
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