Attorneys in the case of a Dearborn priest charged with drunken driving and indecent exposure clashed in court Thursday over whether the man's participation in a rehab facility warranted the adjournment of his case.
Edward Zelenak appeared in the 19th District Court in front of Judge Richard Wygonik on Thursday without his client, the Rev. Peter Petroske, who was .
Petroske's absence, Zelenak explained, was due to the fact that the suspended head priest of Dearborn's Sacred Heart Catholic Parish has been in the St. John Vianney Center in Downingtown, PA, since August—and expects to remain at the Catholic facility for addiction and behavioral services for another 60 days.
It's the third delay of the case for the same reason: Petroske's pre-trial was originally set to take place in August, and then September.
Zelenak added that Petroske would be ready to appear in court in Dearborn for the pre-trial on the charges against him once his treatment is completed.
Nicole Tabin, prosecuting attorney for the City of Dearborn, didn't buy it—referring to Petroske's stay at the rehabilitation facility as "hiding in Philadelphia instead of discussing the criminal charges against him."
Tabin further argued that a letter sent from the facility on behalf of Petroske didn't include "any indication of his progress, or lack thereof."
"Mr. Petroske is ... playing games," she added.
Zelenak retorted that Petroske is not trying to avoid the case; he's simply trying to get well.
"We'll take care of the case," he assured. "He's not in the streets; he's in a lockdown facility."
Wygonik agreed that adjournments in cases where drugs or alcohol were involved was common, due to factors such as waiting on state testing results, or—such as with Petroske—the defendant being in rehab.
"I don't think just because of who he is, he should be treated any differently than anybody else," Wygonik said. "I'm going to give you a date, and if he's not there on that date, I'll issue a warrant."
Petroske is set to appear for his pre-trial—with no more allowable delays, barring natural disaster—at 1 p.m. Dec. 27.
Until that time, Zelanak said that Petroske is focusing on his recovery. Aiding in that process, he added, has been an outpouring of support from the community and the Catholic Church.
"He's gotten hundreds of letters from parishioners here in Dearborn and from his former parish," Zelanak shared. "The community knows him well."