Convict sues Detroit archdiocese

He claims former Flushing priest serving time for abuse also molested him

The Detroit News/May 5, 2004
By Kim Kozlowski

Former Flushing, Mich., resident and St. Robert Bellarmine altar boy Patrick Antos has filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Detroit and others, alleging they failed to protect him from Jason Sigler, a former priest who has acknowledged abusing boys and is serving prison time. The archdiocese is named in five civil lawsuits related to priests involved in the sexual abuse scandal, including another one against Sigler and one against Robert Burkholder, Alfred Miller and Edward Olszewski.

After Lillian and John Antos read that a former altar boy had been molested by a priest from their parish, they sent the article to their son, Patrick, who is serving time for armed robbery in Utah.

They didn't know he had also been molested, allegedly by the same former Archdiocese of Detroit priest, Jason Sigler, while Patrick was an altar boy at St. Robert Bellarmine in Flushing, Mich. But then he sent them a letter, telling them about the abuse that started when he was 12.

"The newspaper clippings that you sent to me ... brought back memories and feelings that I have tried to bury the last 28 years of my life," the man, now 43, wrote. "Now, I need your help to get this out into the open."

With the help of his parents, Patrick Antos filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Detroit, Bishop Thomas Gumbleton and others. In the suit, which his lawyers attempted to serve to church officials Tuesday, Antos alleges that church leaders protected and covered up for Sigler, who has acknowledged he sexually abused at least 17 boys during the 1970s and 1980s while in New Mexico. The cases resulted in more than $13 million in settlements to victims.

Sigler, a River Rouge native, is serving 7-15 years in a prison in the Upper Peninsula for criminal sexual conduct stemming from a conviction in Genesee County.

A visiting priest for seven months in 1976 at Hazel Park's St. Mary Magdalen, he also was sentenced to one year in jail in 2003 after pleading no contest in Wayne Circuit Court to child sexual abuse involving two boys.

Lillian Antos said she was also supporting the lawsuit for her other son, Michael, who died in a car accident, but is believed by his mother to have been victimized by Sigler.

"I am fighting for them and all the other victims," she said. "I am hoping that other victims come forward. ... Other kids may have it buried deep inside of them, and I know it's an awful way to live."

In response to the lawsuit, the Archdiocese of Detroit said the only complaint brought to them regarding Jason Sigler came forward in April 2002.

"It was immediately turned over to civil authorities and subsequently resulted in a conviction by the Wayne County prosecutor," Ned McGrath, archdiocese spokesman, said in a prepared statement.

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