An Indiana Catholic priest was attacked in church by man who claimed the assault was for the "little kids."
AUDRINA BIGOS, TWITTER
ASHLEY MAY AND VIC RYCKAERT |USA TODAY | 17 hours ago
A Catholic priest who had finished morning prayers inside an Indiana church earlier this week said he was attacked by a man who told him "this is for all the little kids."
Then, he said, he blacked out.
The priest, Rev. Basil John Hutsko, was knocked unconscious by an unknown person around 9 a.m. Monday at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville, Indiana, police told the Chicago Tribune.
The incident officials are calling a hate crime occurred the same day Pope Francis released a letter to Catholics condemning sexual abuse by priests. The letter follows the release earlier this month of a grand jury report that found Catholic priests in Pennsylvania abused more than 1,000 children over six decades. Hutsko was not named in the report.
Chief Joseph Petruch of the Merrillville Police Department, also a friend and fellow priest, told CBS Chicago that the attacker grabbed Hutsko, 64, by the neck, forced the priest to the floor and repeatedly bashed his head until he went unconscious.
Hutsko, who was taken to a hospital after the incident, was left with bruises on his face and body.
Petruch declined to comment Thursday when reached by IndyStar and referred inquiries to the FBI.
Chris Bavender, an FBI spokeswoman, said the FBI is aware of the attack on Hutsko but she could neither confirm nor deny the agency was investigating, a standard FBI response to media inquiries.
Bavender urged anyone with information to call the FBI's tip line, 1-800-225-5324 (CALLFBI), or leave tips via the web at tips.fbi.gov.
IndyStar has left messages with Hutsko and the Diocese of Gary seeking comment.
Indiana is one of five states without a hate crime law.
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Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets