Former subdeacon guilty of criminal sexual conduct in Troy sentenced

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published October 9, 2019

 Hurmiz Ishak

Hurmiz Ishak

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TROY — A former church subdeacon found guilty of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct will serve at least four years in prison.

Hurmiz Ishak, 66, of Sterling Heights, formerly a subdeacon at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church at 2442 E. Big Beaver Road, faced three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Ishak was found guilty on one count, which pertained to oral sex.

In his closing arguments to the jury Aug. 27, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Chris George said the three charges occurred between May and October 2017 at the church, when the victim was 14 years old. He said the victim came forward to his father and church officials in October 2018.

Two other people testified against Ishak at the trial, one about an alleged incident 15 years ago and one reported last year. Neither of those incidents resulted in charges.

“My concern, quite frankly, is how many other children might have been involved in this and how many might in the future,” Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Phyllis McMillen said at Ishak’s sentencing Sept. 27.

She rejected a request from Ishak’s attorney, Jalal Dallo, for either the 71 days Ishak had already served or the bottom of the sentencing guidelines for third-degree criminal sexual conduct — two years to three years and four months.

Dallo said the defendant and the victim being together in a bathroom and a boiler room of the church happened “randomly, a coincidence,” and does not rise to the level of voluntary accompaniment, rating a higher score in sentencing guidelines.

McMillen disagreed.

“There was an asportation,” or carrying away, “to the boiler room. Even going into the bathroom … it was taking the victim, accompanying him to a place of greater danger because there are no other people around.”

Dallo said that Ishak has Type 2 diabetes, which affected him in his police interview.

“He was tired and thirsty,” Dallo said. “His language is not English. He used words he knows.”

Dallo said Ishak misunderstood the question during “an abomination of an interview,” when he was asked how many times the incidents happened, believing he was answering how many times he had been in the different rooms at the church.

“He has a lot of family support. I believe him. I fought for him. He feels very bad for what he saw the victims on the stand going through. He feels bad they are struggling with something — that they are going through something.

“He feels terrible by what he heard. That doesn’t change the fact the interview was horribly done. He didn’t get to express himself in the language he’s the most comfortable with.”

 

Ishak speaks
Ishak read a statement translated by a Chaldean interpreter at his sentencing.

“I regret what happened here because of this case that has affected our people and our character. I do not ever want to harm anyone. … I did not do this. After all these years, 66 years, I have not done any such thing. … I plead to you, have mercy on me.”

“I am allowed to deviate from sentencing guidelines. I believe there are factors not accounted for in the sentencing guidelines,” McMillen said. She said those factors include the impact on the Chaldean community, where she said sexual abuse is not talked about and is rarely reported, resulting in pain and trauma for the victims and their families and a negative impact on the church.

“The defendant exploited the victim’s youth,” George said. “These were vulnerable children in a church, a place most people would associate with safety, a place they could go, free from dangers. The harm the defendant caused these people will likely last a lifetime. He’s caused significant harm to the Catholic Church and significant harm to the Chaldean community, as Bishop Francis references.”

Bishop Francis Kalabat, of the St. Thomas the Apostle Chaldean Catholic Church Eparchy USA, which oversees St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church, issued a statement following the guilty verdict.

“As bishop of St. Thomas Chaldean Eparchy, I am deeply saddened that this abuse took place, and furthermore that it happened on church grounds. I am truly pained by the horrific abuse and suffering inflicted on the victim and families involved. … As painful as this situation is, I am pleased that truth and justice have prevailed. I commend the brave efforts of the victim, the pastor and associate pastors of St. Joseph Chaldean Church for immediately reporting the allegation to law enforcement.”

“The defendant exploited both the victim’s youth and his (own) authority,” McMillen said. She said the Rev. Rudy Roma, the pastor of St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church, described the position as “one of honor and respect.”

George asked that the sentence be four to 15 years in prison, and McMillen agreed.

“The testimony, I believe, was clear. There were multiple victims in this matter,” McMillen said. “I am also taken aback by the response the defendant had as was shown in the (police) interview. When asked if he felt bad about what he did, he did reply, ‘No, because the victim liked it.’ Whether or not the defendant forced the victim or it was consensual, the defendant was the adult in the room.”

McMillen read a victim impact statement from the victim and his parents. The parents said their son suffered psychological injury and is in counseling.

“He continues with counseling, but the pain has not gone away,” it states. “He continues to worry the defendant may harm him in the future.”

They said their son is “depressed most of the time,” and they’ve noticed changes in his behavior.

McMillen said a social worker’s assessment of the victim was, “quite frankly, a heart-wrenching description of the psychological damage that was caused by this incident.”

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