Three men accuse prominent Michigan priest, Polish seminary leader of sexual abuse
The call came one warm night in June 2019. A young Polish priest referred to as “John Doe 1” in a federal lawsuit filed Monday knew it was his boss, Rev. Miroslaw Krol, and he knew that Krol was drunk. But he didn’t know the night would end with him driving an intoxicated Krol and another visiting priest to a motel to meet a male sex worker, and then, according to the suit, withdrawing cash from an ATM so Krol could pay him.
Krol is the chancellor and CEO of Orchard Lake Schools, an Oakland County campus that includes a private prep school, St. Mary’s; a seminary, and a Polish cultural center. A leading figure in the Detroit area’s Polish Catholic community, both Krol and the OLS leadership are named as defendants in a suit in which three men, including two priests, say Rev. Krol recruited them to Orchard Lake with the intent of sexually abusing them.
But when Krol’s abuse was repeatedly reported to Orchard Lake’s board of trustees, which includes the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of the Detroit Archdiocese, these men say they were either forced to resign or were abruptly fired. Krol is currently on leave, according to a statement from Steve Gross, Chairman of the Board of Regents:
“In our judgment, these former employees of the Orchard Lake Schools who are asserting these claims while simultaneously seeking to remain anonymous have mischaracterized the circumstances surrounding their terminations. It is important to note all individuals named in the lawsuit are adults. These former employees bringing this employment action did not work with any minors, nor did their roles involve the High School on our campus. We are confident that the facts, in this case, will prevail, that the legal process will determine their claims lack merit, and that we acted appropriately at all times. As an institution, we have been and will continue to be fully committed to following the highest standards for our students, faculty, and staff."
"Father Krol denies all allegations of misconduct, and looks forward to being vindicated," said attorney Roy Henley, who represents Krol, in an emailed statement Monday. "He has no other comment at this time, and accordingly respectfully declines your offer of an on-air interview."
The public relations office for the Detroit Archdiocese did not respond to requests for comments or interviews.
Who is Rev. Miroslaw Krol?
Krol, a native of Poland, “brings significant money into the OLS organization and has deep ties to the Vatican by virtue of his friendship with Polish Cardinal [Stanislaw] Dziwisz, a former Secretary to Pope John Paul II,” according to the federal suit.
Krol initially studied at the SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary at Orchard Lake. Located in West Bloomfield Township, it bills itself as “the only seminary in the United States dedicated to preparing foreign-born seminarians, primarily from Poland, to serve the Catholic Church in our country.”
Krol went on to complete his training in New Jersey, where he studied under, and was ordained by, the now-notorious former American Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, who sexually abused minors and seminarians for decades.
The lawsuit filed Monday accuses Krol of taking a page out of McCarrick’s book.
“It is in this environment that Defendant Krol completed his religious training and spent much of his early years as a priest in Newark, where McCarrick was Archbishop. Indeed, Krol was ordained by McCarrick and, upon information and belief, witnessed in him many of the grooming tactics that Fr. Krol would later employ at OLS.”
In 2006, Krol returned to Orchard Lake as dean and vice rector of the seminary. According to the complaint, rumors started that he was “engag[ing] in sexual activity with seminarians.”
“At least one young seminarian recruited from Poland during this time period is reported to have confided in both a local priest and in a Bishop in New Jersey that the sexual activity involving Krol at these parties was not always consensual. Upon information and belief, the Bishop told the seminarian that if he wanted to become a priest, he should not say anything further about the topic.”
Meanwhile, Krol was traveling to Poland to recruit young men, including those who allegedly “had failed out of seminary in Poland or who had issues with alcohol and sexual matters.” The suit accuses Krol of falsifying their academic transcripts to get them into Orchard Lake, where they were “alone and eager to revive their dreams of becoming a priest. They were vulnerable and largely dependent on Krol.”
In 2017, when Krol was being considered as a candidate for chancellor of Orchard Lake, “two priests who had worked with Krol at OLS in the past raised concerns with the OLS Board of Regents regarding Krol’s behavior…[and] rumored sexual misconduct when he had served as a Dean and Vice Rector,” the claim alleges.
“Despite these warnings about Krol, the OLS Board of Regents appointed him as Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer in 2017.”
John Doe 1: A young Polish priest
John Doe 1 first met Krol when he was a young seminary student in Poland, where Krol often came to recruit students to Michigan. Years later, the suit alleges Krol aggressively recruited Doe 1 to leave his role as a priest in a New Jersey parish to come work as vice chancellor of Orchard Lake, promising to pay for and arrange his green card.
But the green card never materialized. Instead, Krol began controlling every aspect of his life, according to the complaint: berating him, demanding he “be available at all times,” forcing him to cancel plans or return early from vacations. He also began inviting Doe 1 to his apartment for late-night meetings, where Krol “drank to excess.” One evening, the suit alleges, Krol pushed his hands down Doe 1’s pants and touched his penis. The next day Krol told him how much “fun” he’d had, and went on to make frequent references to the size of Doe 1’s penis.
"After he left, Krol spread false rumors that John Doe 1 was forced to leave OLS because he was gay. These statements were untrue and continue to harm John Doe 1 to this day."
So when Krol called him that June night, asking Doe 1 to drive him and a visiting priest from Chicago to a bar, Doe 1 refused. But Krol, who was clearly intoxicated, threatened to get behind the wheel himself. Feeling trapped, Doe 1 agreed to give them a ride.
“When they got to the bar, John Doe 1 realized that it was a gay bar,” the complaint reads. “When they left, Fr. Krol directed John Doe 1 to another stop, which John Doe 1 soon realized was a motel. At the motel, a male sex worker, who Krol had apparently contacted through the internet, was waiting. It was apparent to John Doe 1 that the sex worker knew Fr. Krol.
“John Doe 1 remained in the car while the other priests went into the motel,” the complaint says. “At one point, the priests asked John Doe 1 to retrieve cash from an ATM, which John Doe 1 concluded was used to pay the sex worker. When they arrived back to Krol’s apartment that evening, John Doe 1 began to help Krol, who had fallen asleep in the back seat, out of the car. Krol threw his arms around John Doe 1’s neck and tried to hug him … and then started kissing him on the face and lips, trying to put his tongue in John Doe 1’s mouth. John Doe 1 pushed Krol away and told him to go home.”
Doe 1 didn’t know where to turn. He’d seen Krol use his power and influence to destroy the careers of other young priests he didn’t like, the complaint alleges, and feared he couldn’t leave Orchard Lake without angering Krol. Eventually, Doe 1 confided in his bishop in New Jersey, who is not named in the suit, but who told Doe 1 he had to leave.
“Ultimately, John Doe 1 decided to tell Krol that he had to leave for reasons related to his green card,” the suit says. “John Doe 1 left OLS in October 2019. After he left, Krol spread false rumors that John Doe 1 was forced to leave OLS because he was gay. These statements were untrue and continue to harm John Doe 1 to this day.”
John Doe 2: A classical musician from Chicago
At the same time John Doe 1 was trying to find a way out, his coworker was experiencing similar harassment and abuse by Krol, according to the complaint.
“John Doe 2” is not a priest. A Polish native and professional classical musician in Chicago, John Doe 2 was also recruited to Orchard Lake by Krol to take on a prominent position as director of the Polish Mission there.
Both he and Doe 1 were hired in 2018. And like Doe 1, John Doe 2 says Krol began making unwanted sexual advances soon after he started at Orchard Lake. On weekends, Doe 2 would drive back to Chicago to be with his wife and daughter. But that left four evenings a week when Krol knew he was on campus, Doe 2 says.
At first, Krol would invite Doe 2 to his apartment in the evenings, and invited him to “lay down” or “relax” in Krol’s bed. Doe 2 says he made it clear to Krol that he wasn’t interested and left his apartment, but Krol became increasingly aggressive. Then came the text message, in Polish, warning Doe 2 that if he didn’t accept Krol’s invitation, his job would be on the line.
That night, Krol lunged at him, “leaping into his lap” and “kissing his neck and lips and trying to put his hands down John Doe 2’s pants,” the suit alleges. “Krol told John Doe 2 how much he wanted him and pled with him to have sex with him.” Doe 2 says he “pushed Krol away and left his apartment,” and tried to ignore Krol’s messages or schedule work meetings to conflict with Krol’s invitations.
Doe 2 says initially, he was in shock. Having been raised in Poland and with several members of his family serving as priests, Doe 2 had spent his life in the church community. He says he started to tell other members of the Orchard Lake community about what was happening. Some of them seemed shocked. But others told him they weren’t surprised.
“Krol told John Doe 2 how much he wanted him and pled with him to have sex with him.”
“I heard from some of them that there was gossip a long time ago going around about Father Krol, you know, being this or that,” John Doe 2 told Michigan Radio. “So I was shocked, like, ‘So there are people who heard about that already a long time ago, before I got to Orchard Lake, and didn’t do anything about it? Like, are you waiting for something really crazy to happen here on campus?’
“But some … people told me, ‘Well, oh my God, thank God! Because there was already gossip that you had a relationship with Father Kroll…. Thank God that you are straight, you are not the gay.’ Because that was what was the gossip, was that people were telling each other, ‘You know what? Maybe he’s his lover or having a relationship with him.’”
Doe 2 says eventually he just wanted to “forget” what had happened in Krol’s apartment, he says, “and move on and then focus on my job and my work. Hopefully nothing's going to happen, because I sent the message [to Krol.] It's kind of like, ‘Goodbye, thank you very much.’ And hopefully he will get it. And so I was hoping for that. But unfortunately, it got worse and worse and worse.”
Krol began luring Doe 2 to his apartment by pretending to have a heart attack or medical emergency, or saying they needed to talk about “future plans for the Polish Mission.”
“During the meeting, Krol had several drinks and at one point excused himself to go to the bathroom,” according to the suit. “When he returned, Krol sat next to John Doe 2, put his hand on John Doe 2’s leg, and began slowly moving it up his thigh. At the same time, Krol reached his other hand into his own pants and began to masturbate. Krol began asking John Doe 2 to have sex with him and telling John Doe 2 that he loved him. John Doe 2, as in the past, rejected Krol’s advance by moving Krol’s hand off his leg and leaving the apartment.”
It was a turning point. In January 2020, Doe 2 says he reported Krol’s sexual harassment to John Roland, a member of the OLS Board of Regents and Vice Chairman of the Polish Mission’s Board of Directors. Roland said he had to “disclose the information to the entire Board of Regents,” the complaint says, but the “other Board members chastised him, suggesting that Mr. Roland should have addressed this issue only with Krol. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Roland was removed from the OLS Board.”
Just a few weeks later, on January 15, 2020, the COO of Orchard Lake, Todd Covert, asked to talk with Doe 2 privately in his office.
“So he closed the door, and he said, ‘We need to talk about stuff. There is that person who reported to us, the board member [who] reported to us…. And I need to ask questions, and I want to talk to you about it. So are you OK [with that?]’
“I said ‘Yes, no problem.’ But I said, ‘Can I record the meeting?’ Because I was scared already, you know? And he said, ‘No, there is no reason. It's only the two of us. So there is no reason for recording that meeting.’ And I told him, ‘You know what, I would really like to record that meeting. If not, then I can’t talk to you…. [If] there is nothing to hide, why not to record?’ So then finally he said yes.”
Doe 2 says he still has that recording, though his attorneys declined to provide it to Michigan Radio. But Doe 2 says he recounted Krol’s harassment and abuse over the previous year and half. And Covert seemed sympathetic, he says.
“He told me that he feels very bad for me, and they are going to take this very seriously. They are going to look into it, they are going to investigate, and that there is already investigation going on. And they’re going to get back to me with more stuff, more details, more probably questions.”
Doe 2 says he returned home to Chicago that same day. Two days later, he opened his email to find a message from the vice Chairman of the Board of Regents, asking Doe 2 to contact him about a “‘very urgent, very important issue.’”
“And then before I was able to respond to that email or contact him, I got another email” saying his contract with Orchard Lake and the Polish mission has been terminated. The email accused Doe 2 of “a variety of criminal and tortious conduct,” the suit alleges, including that Doe 2 had stolen or mismanaged money from the Polish mission.
Those allegations were “untrue,” the suit claims, and “had never been raised with Doe 2 previously, and was nowhere mentioned in his personnel file.” But he soon learned that Krol was publicly saying Doe 2 had been fired under a cloud of suspicion for misusing Orchard Lake funds.
In the close-knit, Midwestern Polish Catholic community, word spread fast, Doe 2 says. He started getting calls to his home in Chicago from friends who’d heard the rumors.
“He talked badly about me in Poland, too,” Doe 2 says. “So people who knew me [for] many years, they contacted me, and they said, ‘There is something not correct. You are not that guy .’
“So it was very shocking. And I was sitting alone [at home] because I couldn't, at the time, talk openly. I couldn't let people know what was happening, really, behind the scenes…. He hurt my name that I built for years and years. And then I thought, what about my child, you know, if she hears some story later on, and it’s untrue?”
Doe broke down, sitting in his car in his garage, so that his daughter wouldn’t hear him while she was doing virtual school inside the family’s home. “I'm doing this for all the future victims. I don't want anything like that to happen to anyone. But mostly for my daughter. I want to look in her eyes every day, and know that I did the right thing.”
“I was the guy who was victimized, and going through the trauma, and seeking for help and telling people ‘Listen, guys, help me. This is something not right. This is crazy stuff going on on this campus from the leader. This is what is happening to me as an employee.’ And they did nothing.”
Reports and retaliation
The third and final victim mentioned in the suit is not a formal plaintiff, but was witness to similar behavior by Krol. He, too, was a young Polish priest recruited by Kroll soon after John Doe 2 left Orchard Lake. He too says Krol sexually harassed him, and that when Doe 3 rejected him, Krol “began sending him torrents of abusive text messages, and blaming [him] for mistakes that he had not made.”
In December 2019, Doe 3 told Krol he would leave Orchard Lake when his contract ended the following June. Instead, Krol fired him in March. Doe 3 says he reported Krol “to church authorities by writing to the Archdiocese of Detroit in or around March of 2020.”
Soon after, a detective from the Michigan Attorney General’s office contacted Doe 3, and interviewed him. The same detective also reached out to Doe 1, who eventually agreed to disclose Krol’s abuse as well. According to the lawsuit, no one from Orchard Lake has reached out to either of the young priests about their complaints.
Then in August, lawyers for the two plaintiffs reached out to Orchard Lake’s leadership to formally report the allegations of sexual harassment. One month later, in September, Krol went on a popular Polish radio show, and accused both Doe 2 and Doe 3 of “misappropriating funds.” Doe 1 says Krol began contacting his friends and family members and making threatening statements. “Indeed, shortly after Krol learned of John Doe 1’s cooperation with legal counsel in this matter, parishioners in John Doe 1’s diocese began receiving anonymous and disparaging letters about John Doe 1,” the suit says.
“It's so disappointing to me, both as an attorney and as a Catholic, to see a Church institution respond this way to really serious, credible claims from multiple people that have come forward,” says Jennifer Salvatore, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “And that's really disappointing, because the world knows now how they're supposed to respond. The law is really clear about how they're supposed to respond, and the Church knows how they're supposed to respond. And time and again, they are not honoring their legal obligations or their moral obligations with respect to how these issues are being addressed. And to see it happen in 2019, 2020 in a Catholic Church entity is just tragic.”
This story was updated on December 14 at 7:30 pm to include a statement from Orchard Lake's Chairman.