19th District Court Judge Richard Wygonik has come under fire for allegedly making several disparaging comments about Arab Americans during a conversation with Dearborn Heights Councilman Tom Berry on July 10.
Berry circulated details of the conversation in an email and told The Arab American News that while sitting in a Detroit restaurant following a celebratory event for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy's uncontested election campaign, Wygonik made offensive statements about Arab American parents and students of south and east Dearborn schools Salina and Fordson High.
Wygonik has benefited in past elections from Arab American voters and political action groups who campaigned for him.
"This is a very serious issue. We're very disturbed… We were taken by surprise," said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).
"Judge Wygonik did have the support of the Arab American community. He appeared at various community events including ours."
Osama Siblani, president of the Arab American Political Action Committee (AAPAC) and publisher of The Arab American News said, "We supported him in his election and he has acknowledged this. The AAPAC executive board will meet soon to discuss this issue and the steps that will be taken to respond."
In the email that was circulated, Berry quotes the judge's wife Adrenne Wygonik as having said, "Arab parents don't know how to raise kids, letting them run around, starting trouble everywhere they go."
He said the judge agreed, saying "Yeah, especially those from Salina and Fordson."
In response to multiple calls and messages placed to Wygonik's chambers, a statement from his spokesperson, Mike Murray, was faxed to the office of The Arab American News.
"The email is not an accurate reflection of what was discussed, either in tone or in substance," read the statement.
"Judge Wygonik has close ties to Dearborn's Arab community. He would not be judge today were it not for the overwhelming support he has received from the community. Judge Wygonik deeply values this relationship and will continue to serve all of Dearborn's residents with dignity and respect." (MORE)