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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.”
Archdiocese spokesman Joe Kohn told The Macomb Daily on Thursday the organization has acted to remove Kaucheck from his position at Gianna House subject to the requirements under the Catholic’s Church’s legal process, the Congregation for Clerk of the Vatican. “Father Kaucheck does remain barred from public ministry,” Kohn said. “It is our position Father Kaucheck’s involvement in Gianna House is public ministry. We are addressing the matter under canon law.” Dr. Robert Welch, who is chairman of the Gianna House Board of Directors, said Friday he was unaware of Kaucheck’s removal from public ministry in 2009 and the Archdiocese’s attempt to oust him from the Gianna House position. “This is obviously shocking news to me,” Welch said. “This is troubling news, certainly.” He said Kaucheck has been pleasant to work with and hasn’t noticed anything that would raise suspicion. He has worked with Kaucheck for about five years while the organization looked for and found a location for the facility. “He seems very sincere, very committed,” he said. “He’s very nice to work with. I’ve seen nothing but honorable intentions from him.” Kaucheck did not return a message left at his residence Friday.
Photo: Gianna House