The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Hurmiz Ishak, a subdeacon at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in Troy, Michigan, was convicted last week of one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Ishak’s victim was 14 at the time of the assault, which took place in 2017 and 2018 at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church, where Ishak has been a member for 21 years.
Ishak had faced three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, with alternate charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct if the jury determined Ishak wasn’t in a position of authority over the victim. He was acquitted of the two other charges.
During the trial which started late last week, jurors saw Ishak’s recorded interview with a Troy police detective where he admitted to participating in some sexual activity with the teen boy at the church. He also said he did some of the acts at the boy’s request.
Ishak’s attorney, Jalal Dallo, had built a defense partly on a claim that a language barrier posed issues during Ishak’s interview with police. Assistant prosecutor Christopher George, however, dismissed that, noting Ishak has been in the United States since the 1970s and an interpreter was present via speaker phone during the interview — and rarely needed. He also noted Ishak used slang when describing the sexual activity.
The boy testified Monday, describing sex acts with Ishak which he subsequently reported to church officials in October 2018, who then contacted Troy police. Among the other witnesses jurors heard from were two other alleged victims of Ishak, a teenage girl and an adult woman, who both claim Ishak acted inappropriately with them at the church. The adult woman was a teenager at the time, and was reportedly advised by her mother to keep the allegations to herself because otherwise she’d be ostracized and “treated like damaged goods” by the Chaldean community.