DETROIT — A Catholic priest who worked at a Detroit high school was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday after he pleaded guilty to transporting child porn to Chicago and admitted to sexually assaulting a former student.

Richard James Kurtz, 70, was a chemistry teacher years ago at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School in Detroit.

Kurtz, who was brought in the courtroom Tuesday shackled and handcuffed, read a statement before Judge Mark Goldsmith, saying he was “deeply sorry” for his actions.

“Words can’t express how much remorse I feel,” Kurtz said. “… Some of my victims have names that are known to me. I am guilty of capturing images of them for my perverse pleasure. … The damage I’ve done must be borne by them for time to come. I accept full responsibility for betraying them.”


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Before handing down a 144-month prison sentence, Goldsmith said Kurtz’s crime victimized children, who are an especially vulnerable population.

“The facts of this case are very sobering,” Goldsmith said. “The number of images is significant, whether it’s the 2,300 or a higher number. That number is chilling enough. Some of these victims were not nameless unknowns, but persons, young people who interacted with the defendant. The defendant violated, in terrible ways, the safety and sense of security that every child has the right to enjoy.”

Kurtz gazed into his lap for most of his sentencing hearing and appeared gaunt in his Wayne County Jail jumpsuit. Kurtz’s attorney, Christopher Andreoff, said his client has lost nearly 15 pounds and was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety.

“I’m very concerned about his health, Andreoff said, before asking the judge to allow Kurtz to be placed in a facility where he can receive proper care. “…I’m asking the court for mercy and redemption and to allow him to see the light of day.”

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mulcahy argued that Kurtz has received more than his fair amount of breaks from the government and other authorities.

“To say that Kurtz was a wolf in sheep’s clothing is to suggest that Kurtz attempted to blend in with the flock to commit his offenses,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum. “But Kurtz did more. Kurtz is more accurately described as a wolf in shepherd’s clothing, devouring some of his sheep for his own sexual pleasure. As such, Kurtz deserves to spend a significant part of the rest of his life in prison.”

The government recommended a 14-year sentence in custody, followed by 10 years of supervised release. In exchange for Kurtz’s guilty plea, and in recognition of his age and other mitigating factors, the government agreed to dismiss the production of child pornography charge.


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Kurtz was dismissed from the school in 2001 when a 16-year-old boy accused him of sexual assault on a trip to Colorado. The family didn’t pursue charges at the time, but an investigation was opened in 2011 and Kurtz was convicted and placed on probation. Following this incident, several people came forward, according to the sentencing memorandum, and disclosed other instances of sexual misconduct by Kurtz.

Investigators said Kurtz also secretly recorded video of University of Detroit Jesuit hockey players while they changed in a locker room in the late 1990s.

Kurtz taught chemistry on and off for 25 years at the high school in northwest Detroit, starting in 1970.

“As the boys played hockey … and disrobed, they had no idea that there was someone creeping in their room,” Mulcahy said. “He abused that surreptitiously.”


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Kurtz’s child porn collection was discovered in 2011 by priests who were packing his belongings at former residences in Clarkston, Mich., and Chicago.

According to federal court documents, the priests observed material containing images of underage boys, both clothed and nude. The images were turned over to the FBI, who discovered more than 2,300 images of child pornography on various computer media, floppy disks, printed pictures and photographic paper.

Beyond those images, Kurtz also had a series of photographs of clothed boys taken at what investigators believed was the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. Kurtz was living a Missouri retreat for wayward priests last year when he was arrested in the child porn case.

Mulcahy said all of Kurtz’s crimes showed a “sea of violation of public trust.”

“Mr. Kurtz used the word ‘betrayal’ and that’s correct,” Mulcahy said. “Imagine a 13-year-old boy trying to unpack that word to describe a man of the cloth. Father Kurtz should have been as he is now: in handcuffs. This man was called to be a shepherd of his flock. Instead he violated that trust.”

(Stafford reports for the Detroit Free Press.) 

LM END STAFFORD

17 Comments

  1. Ironically Fr. Kurtz was apparently celebrated as having 50-years as a Jesuit according to the 2013 Jesuit USA directory.

    For information on the Jesuit record regarding sex abuse in California, insert
    “Who is Tom Smolich?”
    in your search engine.

    • Yes, the Jesuits were some of the worst. They openly received homosexual pedophiles for years, and finally, God has exposed the filth, and we are rooting out the infestation. It will be a long slow process, though. But at least the Church is doing what needs to be done; we now need the Protestant churches to do the same (but don’t hold your breath).

    • Ever notice how hidden child molesters and rapists are always so vocal about discriminating against gays. As if they are trying to throw the scent off their trail by attacking others.

      Catholic Priests, Boy Scout leaders, the Duggars…

      • ben in oakland

        I’ve pretty much concluded that our boy Greg was molested by a priest, and now works out his issues on the backs of innocent gay people. After all, how else could he reconcile what was done to him and his faith?

        Pretty sad and pretty sick, if true.

    • BeBrave: I have every right to criticize the wolves in sheep’s clothing who entered in, and nearly destroyed my Church. I have an insight into the horrible situation that many do not. So you cannot BS me. The fact that these men are being exposed and tossed from the Church — without ever admitting the error of their sins! — is the answer to the prayers of the Faithful. Our Lord Jesus will never let the “gates of hell [to] prevail against his Church” (Matt 16:18). And we are witnessing that in our time. As far as the Protestant churches, well the Devil doesn’t just work to destroy the Catholic Church, his subtle plan of destruction is no different than it was in the beginning (Gen 3:5); he will slip in, twist and destroy any Truth left in even the Protestant churches. Only they are not protected by Our Lord, so they will succumb to evil and call it good. We are seeing that happening before our eyes , each and every passing day.

      • Greg1,
        ” …even the Protestant churches. Only they are not protected by Our Lord… ”

        That’s silly nonsense and you should know it.

        Spend more time with NT knowledge instead of church propaganda and you’ll get a clearer view of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the world.

        Because of the kindness that God has shown me, I ask you not to think of yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers……….Romans 12:3

        Just insert the word ‘church’ into that verse and you’ll see that any and all churches should also ‘not’ think of itself more highly than it should.

        • Billy, Our Lord Jesus established a Church, one that would be protected by him until the end (Matt 16:18). That Church was “one” for the first 1000 years of Christianity. After that groups one after the other left the heart of the Church, and started their own churches. And those churches are not protected by our Lord. Does the Holy Spirit operate in those churches? Yes I can’t imagine why not (Luke 9:50), but are those churches protected from error? Well, we see many of them today formally teaching grave error; that should answer that particular question.

          • Greg1,
            ” And those churches are not protected by our Lord. ”

            You’re a gung-ho Catholic for sure to repeat and accept a statement like that. You’re using the word ‘protected’ to mean ‘free from error’ I’m sure.

            I’ll agree that Catholicism does a good job of ‘seemingly’ to be Biblically correct, but even with the Lord’s blessings, man’s fallibility wont allow infallibility to occur.

            Even a liberal Protestant as myself firmly believes that Catholicism is a great power for righteousness and good, but I can’t see nor accept any concept of infallibility for any church.

      • ben in oakland

        ” I have an insight into the horrible situation that many do not.”

        So I WAS right. you had been molested, and now you are working out all of your issues by taking your pound of flesh from innocent gay people.

        “Only they are not protected by Our Lord, so they will succumb to evil and call it good.” I guess you and all of the other innocent children abused and molested by Catholic priests for the last 1000 (or more) years were also not protected by Jesus.

        Funny, rabid anti catholics of the Baptist variety regularly refer to your church as the scarlet whore of babylon. You insist that they just love evil.

        Jesus would be so proud of ALL of you.

        • No Ben, I never had a bad experience with any Catholic priest. The ones I have known have been very good, honest, and devoted to the Lord. I, however, have family members who have seen from inside this topic of discussion, and know much from those discussions.

    • ben in oakland

      Here ya go. I wouldn’t want you to think that we don’t care.

      I am very glad that yet another child molester and boy raper has been caught and sent to the prison he so justly belongs in.

      I am very glad indeed that yet another catholic priest, called to the holy priesthood by God, confirmed in that gift by the holy church, and probably protected by that church for decades, has been found to be yet another child molesting priest, hardly the latest, but just the latest we know about in a long line of such priests going back at least 1000 years.

      I’m sorry that hundreds and thousands of innocent children have been victimized by this church and its hierarchy. It is beyond appalling. I wish those children peace, wherever they may be. And I truly wish those child rapists were all burning in the hell I don’t believe in for their crimes against humanity and children, and for blaming innocent gay people in order to deflect from their own heinous sins.

      Does that do it for you?

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