Troy sub-deacon charged with sex assaults on teen boy

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
Hurmiz Ishak

Troy — A longtime member at a Catholic church in Troy faces felony charges related to allegations of "multiple" sexual encounters with a teen boy at the church for more than a year. 

Hurmiz Ishak, 63, is at Oakland County Jail on a $300,000 cash-or-surety bond on three counts of criminal sexual conduct.

Two of the counts are first-degree, and one is third-degree, per court records. Ishak was arraigned Wednesday at 52-4 District Court in Troy.

Police say the Ishak's alleged assaults on the boy began on May 1, 2017, and continued through October 2018. In mid-October, the boy's parents reported the allegations to a priest at the church, St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church, and the church reported them to police. 

Police arrested Ishak on Wednesday before his arraignment. He had served with the church for more than 20 years, police said.

Three pastors at the church said Thursday afternoon that Ishak served as a sub-deacon at the church. 

The Rev. Rudy Zoma, 38, pastor of St. Joseph since August 2014, said Ishak’s position was basically that of an “elevated altar server,” who set up the altar for masses, baptisms, weddings and funerals. He also opened and closed the church. 

But he was “not part of the church hierarchy,” Zoma said. 

Ishak had served in that role since 1997, but was fired after the allegations were made.

“For the most part, he was good,” Zoma said. “We haven’t noticed anything of this nature, or any tendencies that he had. He seemed normal to all of us.”

Sgt. Meghan Lehman, a spokeswoman for the Troy Police Department, said the charges all relate to the same victim. Lehman declined to give the boy's age, as it would make him more easily identifiable. The multiple counts owe to multiple alleged incidents, Lehman said.

“We saw him on a daily basis, and he did his job,” said Rev. John Jaddou, 30. “There wasn’t anything I saw that made me think this, which is why the community is responding in a very surprised, shocked manner. As much as we would’ve wanted to see it, we just didn’t. There wasn’t anything clear.”

Some 4,000 to 5,000 families call St. Joseph their church home, Zoma said. At Sunday mass, he will address the matter publicly, before the congregation.

Zoma isn’t exactly sure yet what he’ll say.

“Honestly, I’m still thinking, consulting with my brothers about it,” Zoma said. But the general theme will be “words of encouragement and healing.”

“There are wounds in the life of the church,” Zoma added. “There are unfortunate events that happen. This is a time when we need to be united. The people need to be united in a spirit of prayer.

“As priests serving in the vineyard of the Lord, we have to make sure these little people are protected,” Zoma said. 

He credited the person who reported Ishak’s alleged misdeeds to the church.

“So many problems have happened because people didn’t do what this person did,” Zoma said. “In reality, this person did the right thing. This person did a favor for the church. I’m glad somebody came and told us this.”

The Rev. Bryan Kassa, 36, said “We’re all feeling (the pain of the allegations) because we’re all part of the same body. And we should feel it. We’re all suffering together. 

“In a way, you could say the body has a disease right now,” Kassa continued. “And it needs to be cleansed through prayer, through encouragement, and with faith.”