Friday, October 21, 2005

 

Warren priest accused of assaulting pastor, teenager


WARREN, Michigan -- A priest under fire from some of his parishioners allegedly choked and slapped a fellow priest two years ago after a wedding at his previous church in Center Line.

And in a separate allegation, a 16-year-old and his mother Thursday accused the Rev. Alberto Bondy of hitting the youth with a duffel bag in August after accusing the teen of "joyriding" on a lawnmower in front of St. Anne Catholic Church in Warren, his current church.

The incidents came to light after The Detroit News reported Thursday that Bondy, pastor at St. Anne, is being picketed by some members of his congregation because they are unhappy with money he spent for a new office, and because he dismissed a nun who had served the parish. Other parishioners said, however, that they supported Bondy in his leadership of St. Anne's.

Bondy declined to comment Thursday on the latest complaints to come to light, the wedding and lawnmower allegations.

Reached by telephone, Bondy hung up on The News.

Bondy was not arrested after the 2002 incident at his previous church, St. Clement Catholic Church in Center Line, because the other priest -- the Rev. Ronald Victor, pastor of St. Mary Church in St. Clair -- declined to press charges, according to a friend of Victor's, Chuck Piotrowski, a Brownstown restaurant owner.

Officials from the Detroit Archdiocese urged Victor not to press charges, according to Piotrowski. "They told (Victor) they wanted to handle the matter in-house, so he didn't press charges," Piotrowski said. "They ordered (Bondy) to go to anger management classes."

Victor had just celebrated a wedding at St. Clement on Oct. 19, 2002, when Bondy approached him at the closet where Victor was removing his robes, according to a report written by Center Line Police Officer John Sarzynski after talking with Victor. It was filed on Oct. 25, 2002.

Piotrowski said Bondy was upset because the wedding couple had asked Victor, a former St. Clement priest, to perform the ceremony instead of Bondy.

"Fr. Bondy walked towards (Fr.) Victor loudly stating, 'The thief is back ... Lock everything up, nothing is safe with you around,' " the report by Sarzynski stated. "Fr. Bondy continued toward Fr. Victor, telling him he was not welcome at St.Clement again. Fr. Bondy proceeded to grab Fr. Victor around his neck, choke him, push him against a closet door, and slap him twice."

Victor said Thursday he did not want to elaborate on the 2002 incident. "The archdiocese is aware of what happened," he said. "That's all I want to say about it."

Archdiocese spokesman Richard Lasko said, "the matter has been worked out between the parties."

Some of Bondy's parishioners at St.Anne are seeking to have him removed, and have picketed outside the church to express their concerns. One was ticketed for "obstructing traffic" after Bondy said he would call the police. Among the complaints of some parishioners are that he dismissed a longtime nun at St. Anne and spent money unnecessarily, including a reported $25,000 to move his office into another building.

In the lawnmower incident, Julie Wohlgemuth, the Warren mother of the 16-year-old, said families are "fed up" with Bondy and are "pulling their kids out of there." She said she worked at St. Anne for 13 years as a playground monitor, but she and her family stopped attending church there after the incident between Bondy and her son, Ryan, this summer.

Ryan Wohlgemuth was working a summer job at St. Anne, when, he said, Bondy hit him in the shoulder with a duffel bag.

"I was on a lawnmower, mowing the church lawn, and as I was turning it the wheels squealed," Ryan Wohlgemuth said. "Father Bondy came out and told me to stop joyriding. I tried to tell him I wasn't joyriding, and he started screaming at me.

"He told me never to cut him off while he was talking -- then he got this mean look on his face and hit me with a duffel bag he was carrying," Wohlgemuth said. "I didn't know what to do, so I ran into the office and called my mom."

"If a priest flies off the handle with kids, that's not good. Because of (Bondy), I stopped going (to St. Anne)," said Julie Wohlgemuth.

Ryan Wohlgemuth said Bondy "gets really angry."

Piotrowski, 54, said he wishes church officials had disciplined Bondy after he allegedly assaulted Victor.


See also, the never-ending chronicle of church-related crime.

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