Sex-assault charge for city priest

Author: Gabrielle Giroday
Date Published: 02/23/2011

— Hawaii accusations include kidnapping — Complainant is 55-year-old woman

A Ukrainian Catholic priest from Winnipeg has been charged with sexual assault and kidnapping during a vacation in Hawaii.

A Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman confirmed Bothdan Borowic, 56, was arrested last Wednesday and charged with kidnapping and two counts of sexual assault in the third degree. The charges relate to accusations by a 55-year-old woman.

Lawrence Huculak, archbishop for Ukrainian Catholic churches in Winnipeg, said he hasn’t spoken to Borowic, who is the parish priest at Ada Street’s Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church and Fountain Street’s Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church.

”It’s quite a shock for us,” said Huculak, Metropolitan for Ukrainian Catholics in Canada, who is based in Winnipeg but was in British Columbia Tuesday.

”Because the information’s been coming to us piecemeal, that makes it even more difficult for us to get a correct understanding of what’s at issue here.” Huculak said Borowic was in Hawaii ”on vacation” when the woman made the allegations against him.

”This is the first time we’ve ever had such an accusation against him,” said Huculak.

Borowic had been in Hawaii for about two weeks before the accusations arose, said Patrick Downes, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.

The priest was in contact with a small Ukrainian Catholic Church mission that has about 15 to 20 local members and has been around since the 1990s, he said.

He was staying at the Catholic parish where the Ukrainian group meets in a small chapel, said Downes, and the attack allegedly happened on church property.

The police spokeswoman said the victim, who is a parishioner, alleges Borowic ”held her against her will as he sexually assaulted her.” She was in contact with a Ukrainian Catholic official in the U.S. before going to police, and Huculak said she’s in ”almost daily contact” with the Archeparchy of Winnipeg. An archeparchy is a territorial unit of ecclesiastic administration. The Archeparchy of Winnipeg contains 130 Ukrainian Catholic parishes.

Huculak said it’s been ”rather difficult” to get information on the case because of the distance between Canada and Hawaii.

”One of the complications here is the question of jurisdiction,” said Huculak, who said Borowic belongs to the Archeparchy of Winnipeg but Honolulu is under the jurisdiction of another eparchy based in Chicago.

A statement released by the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saint Nicholas in Chicago — which oversees all Ukrainian Catholics in the western half of the United States, as well as Hawaii — said the victim contacted a bishop there before going to police.

”After being informed of the allegations by the victim, (the bishop) counselled her to immediately file a report with the police,” said the statement. The statement goes on to mention Borowic was ”not connected in any way to its mission” in Honolulu.

”The chancery’s procedures require that all visiting priests to any parish or mission in the St. Nicholas Eparchy first obtain prior authorization to conduct any liturgical services or other ministry activities in the eparchy,” said the statement. ”There is no record of the accused priest receiving such authorization permitting him to be at the East Oahu Mission.”

The Archeparchy of Winnipeg’s website lists the spelling of Borowic’s name as ”Bohdan Borowec.”

The variations in spelling could be because Borowic is originally from Poland, said Huculak.

The Winnipeg Police Service said Borowic is not known to them. The Honolulu-based police spokeswoman said bail was set at $75,000.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca