CHICAGO (CBSLocal) — A priest in Indiana is badly bruised after he was beaten until he passed out Monday. The priest says the attack was not random, but that he was targeted by someone filled with hate.
The attack on Father Basil John Hutsko happened at the Saint Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville, Indiana.
The FBI is involved in the case, helping local police look for the attacker. Neighbors say they saw a black car outside the church on Monday.
“Mostly the bruising on his forehead, the whole front of his head went into the floor,” said Chief Joseph Petruch of the Merrillville Police Department, as well as a friend and fellow priest. “Grabbed him by the neck, threw him down on the floor and immediately started slamming his head against the floor. Both sides, front and back.”
Father Basil Hutsko face is battered and bruised and his body is in pain.
The incident happened Monday around 9 a.m. when Hutsko was praying at the altar at the church.
At this point, Father Hutsko is not talking publicly but did talk to CBS 2, as well as police.
“The subject yelled out ‘This is for all the little kids.’ I have enough there to say it’s a hate crime,” said Petruch.
Father Hutsko was attacked the same day Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the world condemning priestly sexual abuse and cover-ups. A grand jury report called out 300 predator priests who allegedly molested more than 1,000 children in six Pennsylvania dioceses.
“Do you think that this person was targeted because of his past?” CBS 2’s Audrina Bigos questioned.
“We’re unsure of that. We’re looking into his past,” Petruch responded.
A fellow priest at the church says Father Hutsko has not been found guilty of any sexual abuse charges, but investigators are looking into his background.