An Indiana priest who garnered headlines in 2018 after he claimed he'd been assaulted in a hate crime and was previously accused of sexually abusing a minor has been defrocked.
An Indiana priest who garnered headlines in 2018 by claiming that he had been assaulted in a hate crime and allegedly sexually abused a minor in the 1980s has been defrocked.
Father Basil John Hutsko of Saint Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville claimed back in 2018 that he'd been assaulted by a man shouting “this is for all the little kids.”
In a letter from August that was recently posted online, the Ohio-based Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma confirmed that Hutsko had been removed from ministry.
“He is not permitted to celebrate Divine Liturgy/Mass publicly or to administer the sacraments. He is forbidden to wear a clerical garb and present himself as a priest,” stated the letter.
“He is bound in conscience to pray and offer acts of penance for those in need of healing due to the harmful actions of clergy.”
The letter also noted that Hutsko has been “permanently removed from engaging in public ministry and does not live on premises belonging to the Eparchy.”
In August 2018, Hutsko gained national headlines when he claimed that a person had assaulted him just outside of Saint Michael Byzantine Catholic Church.
According to Hutsko, the unknown assailant shouted “this is for all the little kids,” apparently in reference to recent revelations about sexual abuse among clergy in the Catholic Church.
Chief Joseph Petruch of the Merrillville Police Department reported at the time that Hutsko had suffered considerable injury from the alleged attack.
“Mostly the bruising on his forehead, the whole front of his head went into the floor,” explained Petruch at the time, CBS's Chicago affiliate reported.
“Grabbed him by the neck, threw him down on the floor and immediately started slamming his head against the floor. Both sides, front and back.”
Church leaders eventually concluded that the attack was likely made up. In addition, a woman accused Hutsko of having abused her when she was a child between 1979 and 1983.
The unnamed accuser had stepped forward in 2004, but at the time her allegations were found to be lacking evidence, according to CBS News.
In October 2018, after receiving new information about the alleged abuse, church officials concluded that her claims held merit and put Hutsko on administrative leave.
“It is the same allegation,” said attorney James Niehaus to the Chicago Tribune in 2018. “As a result of new information, the allegation was reviewed again and now determined to be credible.”