- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ROGERS CITY, Mich. (AP) - A Roman Catholic priest in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula was charged Tuesday with sexually assaulting a man.

The Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka, pastor of St. Ignatius Church in Rogers City, was returned to jail without bond. He’s charged with first-degree and third-degree criminal sexual conduct against a 28-year-old man.

“I am heartbroken over the events that have unfolded in recent days. … These are difficult days,” said Bishop Steven Raica, leader of the Diocese of Gaylord, which includes St. Ignatius.

Obwaka, 44, was arrested over the weekend. Raica met with members of the parish Sunday night, 60 miles southeast of the Mackinac Bridge, and told them that the priest denies the allegations.

An investigation by state police is ongoing, said Presque Isle County Prosecutor Ken Radzibon.



Obwaka, a native of Kenya, has been a priest since 2010 and pastor at St. Ignatius since July 2013.

Raica said Obwaka is presumed innocent until proven guilty, but he added that “we must respond with compassion when anyone is harmed.”

A court hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to send Obwaka to trial is set for March 7.

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