Former Clifton pastor sentenced for choking Kansas baby

Author: Associated Press and staff report
Date Published: 01/25/2018
Publication: NorthJersey.com
(Photo: Kevin R.Wexler/northjersey.com)
(Photo: Kevin R.Wexler/northjersey.com)
Oleh Zhownirovych, former pastor of Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral in Clifton. (Photo: File photo)
Oleh Zhownirovych, former pastor of Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral in Clifton. (Photo: File photo)

OLATHE, Kan. — A former Clifton church pastor was sentenced to about 1 ½ years in prison for an unprovoked attack on a stranger’s baby inside a Kansas Walmart.

The Kansas City Star reports 55-year-old Oleh Zhownirovych was sentenced Thursday to 11 months in prison and six months in the Johnson County Jail, to be served consecutively.

Zhownirovych, a former pastor of a Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Clifton, pleaded no contest in December to felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor battery.

In October 2016, Zhownirovych walked up to a woman waiting in a checkout lane at a Walmart in Overland Park and began choking her 4-month-old daughter. The woman screamed and several people came to her aid and got the baby away from him. The child was not seriously injured.

Zhownirovych served as pastor of Ukrainian Orthodox Holy Ascension Cathedral in Clifton for 15 years but was asked to leave in 2015. He went to Florida, and later told parishioners he was staying with friends and being treated for alcoholism.

“He was always exceptionally good with children and young people” when he was pastor, Walter Mohuchy, the vice president of the Holy Ascension church council, told The Record and NorthJersey.com in March. “This is totally out of character for him.”