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MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – Police in Merrillville are investigating an attack on a Catholic priest.

Rev. Basil John Hutsko, 64, was attacked Monday morning inside St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church.

As the unknown attacker slammed Hutsko’s head against the church floor, police said he repeated six words over and over.

“This is for all the kids,” Chief Joe Petruch said.

Petruch told ABC 7 in Chicago he believes the attacker “targeted this priest because of his faith.” 

A report released earlier this month alleges that at least 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania covered up more than 1,000 cases of molestation over the course of seven decades. But, Hutsko is a Byzantine Catholic priest, not a Roman Catholic priest. He has not been accused of any crimes and is not named in the Pennsylvania report.

Police are calling the attack on Rev. Hutsko a “hate crime”, even though Indiana does not have specific hate crimes legislation, and have shared details of the case with the FBI.

Hutsko was treated Monday for a cut on his forehead and bruises to his head and face. He has since returned to the church.

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to contact the Merrillville Police Department.

(Photo by Alex/iStock/Getty.)