Church deacon charged with criminal sexual conduct with minor

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published November 13, 2018

 Hurmiz Ishak

Hurmiz Ishak

TROY — A local church deacon faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor.

Hurmiz Ishak, 63, of Sterling Heights, formerly a deacon at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church at 2442 E. Big Beaver Road, was arraigned on the felony charges in the 52-4 District Court Oct. 31. He remained in the Oakland County Jail on a $300,000 bond. He did not have an attorney on record with the court as of press time.

Troy Police Department Sgt. Meghan Lehman said church officials reported the alleged offenses to Troy police after learning of them from the minor’s family.

Lehman said church senior clergy suspended the deacon from his duties when they learned of the allegations.

Ishak appeared in court without an attorney. His attorney could not be reached for comment by press time.

According to court documents, the boy is between 13 and 16 years of age, and the alleged offenses took place between May 2017 and last month.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct involves oral and anal penetration and coercion of a minor victim by an adult in a position of authority, court documents state.

The Rev. Rudy Roma, pastor of St. Joseph, said the parish received the accusation Oct. 14 and called Ishak into the church office and immediately suspended him from his duties. He said church officials reported the allegations to Troy police within the 24-hour period required by the St. Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Diocese-USA.

Roma said that Ishak was a church employee and a sub-deacon. His duties included setting up the altar before Mass, opening and closing the church, and helping with weddings and funerals. Roma said Ishak has no seminary training and was not part of the Holy Orders, and was essentially an “elevated altar server. They can be assigned to chanting and reading of the Epistle of St. Paul,” he explained.

“The church’s job is not to investigate, but to turn it over to the authorities. We’re not in a position to investigate. I’m a firm believer the church has to be transparent,” he continued.

Roma said announcements were made at all the Masses Nov. 4.

“We wanted to make our statement less formal and more personal,” he said.

“I had never seen anything weird or such tendencies, or we would have acted a long time ago,” Roma said.

He said some parishioners were shocked and had questions. Some expressed sympathy for the suspect. And some clapped in approval of the church’s actions.

“The parish will endure,” he said. “The spirit of joy will continue.”

Bishop Francis V. Kalabat, from St. Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Diocese-USA, released a prepared statement.

“The diocese encourages any person who has been sexually abused by clergy, personnel or church volunteers to report the abuse to the bishop, regardless of when it occurred. Allegations may also be brought forward to the diocesan victim assistance coordinator, Janan Senawi, at (248) 354-3066,” Kalabat stated.