Priest accused of drunk, naked drive in treatment

DEARBORN (AP) -- A judge last Thursday postponed a hearing for a priest accused of driving naked and drunk in Dearborn this summer because the priest is at a Pennsylvania rehabilitation center receiving treatment.

The pretrial hearing for the Rev. Peter Petroske of Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn was adjourned until Dec. 27. Dearborn District Judge Richard Wygonik approved the postponement sought by defense lawyer Edward Zelenak and over the objections of a city attorney.

"He's in a lock-down facility," Zelenak said of Petroske, a longtime Detroit area priest. "It's not as if he's thumbing his nose at the system."

Petroske, who was ordained in 1984, was arrested Aug. 2 near the church on misdemeanor charges of drunken driving and disorderly or obscene conduct. He was placed on administrative leave by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit.

Zelenak said Petroske is being treated for the alcohol offense at St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pa. The center's website says it treats clergy and religious professionals with behavioral disorders and psychiatric illnesses.

Nicole Tabin, the city attorney, said it was appropriate and "therapeutic" for Petroske to interrupt his treatment for last Thursday's scheduled hearing, yet he "continues to hide in Philadelphia." Wygonik said Petroske deserves the opportunity to continue rehabilitation "as long as it's showing results ... and legitimate."

Zelenak said his client is expected to remain in treatment at the center for another 60 days, and told the judge that his client will be in court for the December hearing. He said Petroske has no prior criminal history, and has received hundreds of letters of support and encouragement from parishioners.

Published: Mon, Oct 29, 2012