voiced at site of Detroit conference
By Dennis Pelham - Daily Telegram Staff Writer
May 22, 2005
ADRIAN -- Complaints of sexual abuse by two United Methodist Church
ministers were voiced Saturday from the sidewalk in front of the
Adrian College campus where an annual weekend gathering of church
leaders in the Detroit Conference was taking place.
A board member of the national group Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests held a press conference along with a Dearborn
Heights man who said his former minister destroyed his marriage
and sexually harassed his four daughters.
After the press conference, SNAP board member Janet Patterson of
Kansas walked across the campus to try to hand deliver a letter
to Michigan Conference Bishop, Jonathan Keaton.
She was not able to meet with him. She also passed out copies of
her letter to people attending the conference, including to one
of the two ministers SNAP is asking the church to take action against.
Patterson is the mother of a sexual abuse victim who committed
suicide nearly six years ago at the age of 29. She said he was abused
by their family's Catholic priest when he was 12 years old.
"Since my son's death I've become an outspoken advocate for
victims of clergy sexual abuse," she said.
Patterson said SNAP is asking the Detroit Conference of the United
Methodist Church to follow its own policies for dealing with complaints
of sexual abuse by having the Rev. Charles Boayue step down as pastor
of Second Grace United Methodist Church in Detroit.
He is being sued by a former church deacon, Joy Veronica Reyes
Singer, for alleged sexual abuse in 2003.
Church officials have not adequately investigated the case, she
"Denial is very, very deadly in this process," she said.
The letter from SNAP also asks for suspension of the Rev. Robert
Selberg, currently a visitation pastor in the Plymouth United Methodist
Curt Szajnecki said Saturday he is making his first public complaint
against his family's former minister after a nine-year struggle
with the United Methodist Church. He said Selberg sexually harassed
his four daughters and caused his wife to divorce him. Selberg then
secretly married his wife, Szajnecki said.
He passed out copies of a Dec. 14 order from Wayne County Probate
Court settling a lawsuit on behalf of his 14-year-old daughter against
the church for alleged harassment by Selberg from 1997 through 2003.
The amount paid by the church's insurance provider was not revealed.
A bishop of the Michigan Conference placed Selberg in therapeutic
counseling for one year. After the counseling concluded last year,
he said, Selberg was transferred to the Plymouth church. Szajnecki
said Selberg is in a position to repeat his behavior with other
children in a church where members are not aware of his background.
"If an independent, thorough investigation of this family's
charges is not carried out, others may be in jeopardy," said
the letter from SNAP to Bishop Keaton.
Szajnecki said he first reported the harassment of his daughters
and seduction of his wife in 1996.
Church policy calls for a response team to investigate sexual abuse
claims and attend to the needs of sexual abuse victims, he said.
"I'm still waiting after nine years for this response team
to show up," he said.
"I'm here today on behalf of children's rights, of adults'
rights and of victims' rights," Szajnecki said.