BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Polish-born Kalamazoo doctor who was detained by immigration authorities more than two weeks ago has been released from the Calhoun County Jail on bond.
Dr. Lukasz Niec was released after a federal immigration judge in Detroit set his bond Wednesday at $10,000. He still faces deportation, but can remain free while his case progresses.
Niec’s wife and sister were at the jail when he was released Thursday afternoon. His sister said Niec would not be making a statement.
“We talked about what he was going to say, but then I got a message saying that he’s just overwhelmed with emotion and just wants a couple quiet days to take a moment, digest everything that has happened over the last few days,” Niec’s sister, Iwona Niec-Villaire, said.
“Right now, he feels relief, and he’s grateful. He’s grateful to everyone who’s supported him,” she added.
Niec, 43, came to the U.S. from Poland as a child about 40 years ago. He was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Jan. 16 for administrative immigration violations.
“It was fright, it was frustration, it was all those things mixed up,” his sister said.
ICE says two misdemeanor convictions from Niec’s teenage years for malicious destruction of property and involvement in receiving and concealing stolen goods are grounds for deportation.
The investigation in to Niec was triggered by a child abuse case in which he was accused of biting his then-5-year-old daughter last summer. Police and Children’s Protective Services investigated, but a bruise on the girl’s shoulder was never determined to be a bite mark. Niec was never charged and retained his parenting time with his daughter. Niec’s family has said that the abuse claim was “fabricated” by his ex to gain an advantage in a child custody battle.
During his Wednesday bond hearing, an attorney for ICE argued that child abuse case and drunken driving offenses from 2003 and 2008 showed Niec is a threat to the community. She said citations for speeding and driving without proof of insurance show a lack of respect for the law. She also drew the judge’s attention to a previous domestic violence charge, saying a jury’s quick acquittal in that case of Niec showed he “played the doctor card” to get out of trouble.
But federal Judge Mark Jebson didn’t seem to agree, pointing out that Niec’s most recent drunken driving charge was nearly 10 years ago and that the Kalamazoo County prosecutor never found enough evidence of child abuse to file charges.
ICE wanted Niec kept in jail until at least Feb. 22, when a CPS hearing is scheduled in Wayne County, where the mother of his daughter lives.
At his bond hearing, Niec said he wants to go back to work as soon as possible. Bronson Methodist Hospital has said it wants him back.
His next federal court date has not yet been set.
–24 Hour News 8’s Brady Gillum contributed to this report.