Girl Accuses Priest at Sex Trial

By Terry Wilson
Chicago Tribune
December 10, 1992

A Berwyn girl testified Wednesday that the priest who confirmed her into the Roman Catholic Church fondled her in the church rectory when she took him a letter from her mother.

The girl, now 15, broke into tears as she recalled the incident that she said occurred almost two years ago when she went to the second floor of the St. Odilo Church rectory to give a letter to Rev. Robert Mayer, who is on trial before Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Durkin.

Mayer, 53, who was ordained in 1964, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse for allegedly putting his hand down the girl's blouse and up her skirt sometime between Jan. 7 and Jan. 28, 1991. Mayer resigned from his post at the church in July 1991.

According to testimony, Mayer, who had been pastor of the church, was under an archdiocesan mandate requiring he not be alone with people under age 21.

Yet he taught a religion class and sex education at the parish grade school and allowed boys to hang out in a recreation room that was part of the rectory, according to testimony.

His attorneys, Patrick Tuite and Brent Stratton, said Mayer is innocent of the charges, which the girl did not make until nearly a year after the alleged incident.

But prosecutors Mark Cavins and Roseanne Pulia disagreed. They called witnesses who said Mayer remarked about the girl's attractiveness to boys in the rectory and in a sex education class.

"He used every street term there is about sex, every disgusting term," testified Salvador Gamino, 15, of Berwyn, who had been in the religion and sex education class. "He said she should come in and demonstrate."

Prosecutors also called Bishop Raymond Goedert, who used to be the vicar for priests, and who now is in charge of the north part of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

He testified that Mayer resigned from St. Odilo for two reasons: He had violated an archdiocesan mandate that ordered he not be alone with anyone under 21 and because an adult male had filed a complaint alleging Mayer had made advances at him.

Brian Morton, 14, a Berwyn youth, testified he had been in the rectory one afternoon when Mayer mentioned the girl's name. He said he and the other boys were shocked when they heard Mayer describe what he wanted to do with her.

The girl testified that she went to the rectory to deliver a letter Mayer had asked for. When he joined her in his office, he read the letter and sat next to her on a sofa so that his thigh was against hers, she said.

She testified that she moved and he moved too, and that neither said anything. When she reached the end of the sofa, the fondling occurred, she said.

"He, um, he took his right hand and he put it down my blouse and on my breast," the girl testified as her sisters wept in the courtroom.

She testified that she ran out of the rectory and avoided being alone with Mayer again.

The defense is scheduled to begin presenting its case Thursday.


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