A 64-year-old Catholic priest who has not been accused of anything was set upon and beaten by an unknown assailant in Indiana in an act officials say is a possible hate crime.
According to the Associated Press:
Authorities believe the remark was in reference to the clergy child sex abuse scandal, prompting police to alert the FBI Merrillville office. More than 300 priests were accused of sexually abusing about 1,000 children during the past 70 years in several Pennsylvania diocese, according to a report released last week — but Hutsko wasn’t named in the report and hasn’t been linked to it in any way.
Hutsko was taken to a hospital for treatment, Merrillville Detective Cmdr. Jeff Rice said. His condition wasn’t immediately known.
“He’s a good priest and like everybody said, he’s not accused of anything,” the Rev. Steven Koplinka from St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Parish in Munster told the Post-Tribune. “Why attack him?”
“It’s just like they’re targeting the wrong guys, you know?” Koplinka added. “The rest of us try our best to be good priests and unfortunately this happened.”
On Monday, the “Red” Pope, John Francis, issued a letter condemning sexual abuse by priests as well as the ensuing decades-long cover-up. The letter came n the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that some 300 U.S. priests abused at least 1,000 children over the past 70 years.
“It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable,” Pope Francis wrote in his official letter on the controversy.
Police had little information on the attack to go by. The attacker may have been driving a dark Buick and is male. But that is about all police have as a description.
Investigators are asking anyone with information to call Commander Jeff Rice of the Merrillville police, or Detective Sean Buck at 219-769-3722.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.