KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A child abuse investigation from last year drew immigration officials’ attention to a Kalamazoo doctor who now faces deportation.
Forty-three-year-old Dr. Lukasz Niec, who came to the U.S. from Poland as a child about 40 years ago, was arrested by federal agents Jan. 16 for administrative immigration violations.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed to Target 8 Wednesday that they were aware of a child abuse investigation and that it was the “reason for the arrest.”
An abuse allegation detailed in Van Buren County family court records is linked to a contentious custody battle between Niec and the mother of his 5-year-old daughter.
The mother reported that the child returned from a visit with Niece in July 2017 with a bruise on her shoulder.
According to a transcript of family court testimony from a state police detective, the 5-year-old told an employee in a doctor’s office that her father had bit her on the shoulder.
“I sent the pictures (of the bruise) to a forensic odontologist and asked him to examine them,” Michigan State Police Detective Bradley Martin testified Aug. 23 in Van Buren County Circuit Court. “They said there were some characteristics that were similar to the shape of a mouth, but that based on those pictures they couldn’t render an opinion as to whether it was a bite mark or not.”
Niec and his current wife denied the doctor bit his child and the case never went to criminal court.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting would not confirm whether state police turned the case over to his office for a potential criminal charge.
“My office will not comment on a case that did not result in charges being authorized,” Getting said.
At one point in the August court hearing, the judge asked the MSP detective if he was concerned for the child’s safety.
“With your experience and history, do you see anything that cause you to have concern about his child being her father’s sole care?” asked Honorable Jeffrey J. Dufon, a Van Buren County Circuit Court judge.
“There is certainly enough information there that we would investigate it and make sure that Child Protective Service is also investigating,” Detective Martin responded.
Niec’s parenting time was suspended while Children’s Protective Services investigated, but was later reinstated.
“I don’t have any doubt that this child is well loved and cared for by both of these parties,” Judge Dufon said. “It’s very clear that … this is a very lucky child and that she has two very loving parents who now have other extended families that are also loving this child.”
Niec’s attorney told Target 8 the child abuse allegation was “fabricated” to gain an advantage in the custody battle. Deanna Kelley, Niec’s attorney for the custody case, described the doctor’s ex as “relentless” in her efforts to separate Niec from his daughter.
“She uses the court system as a sword instead of a shield,” Kelley said.
In a news release Tuesday, ICE said Niec was on their radar because of 18 interactions with local police, most of them driving-related, including an arrest for operating while impaired by liquor. It was two relatively minor convictions from his teenage years in the early 1990s that technically make him eligible for deportation now.
But ICE confirmed to Target 8 Wednesday that the trigger for his arrest was a child abuse investigation.
Niec, a much-loved physician at Kalamazoo’s Bronson Methodist Hospital, is being held at the Calhoun County Jail while he awaits a hearing in immigration court. He’s scheduled for a bond hearing Friday morning in Detroit.