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Long Term Eyed for Ex-Priest
Prosecutors say he molested 16

By Matt O'Connor
Chicago Tribune
December 4, 2002

Prosecutors want a former Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to child pornography charges imprisoned for as long as 17 1/2 years and disclosed Tuesday for the first time that the ex-priest allegedly molested at least 16 boys under his care at Chicago-area parishes on hundreds of occasions.

The government motion alleges that the Chicago archdiocese learned of Vincent McCaffrey's "predatory behavior fairly early on," but McCaffrey was able to continue his sexual exploitation of children uninterrupted "even after repeatedly getting caught and reprimanded by his superiors."

In the court filing, Assistant U.S. Atty. T. Markus Funk contends that McCaffrey often targeted vulnerable young boys, some of them altar boys, who were looking for a father figure.

At least six of the alleged molestation victims, now grown men, are expected to testify at McCaffrey's sentencing on Monday, Funk said.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, prosecutors are allowed to bring out related criminal conduct.

In a separate court filing Tuesday, prosecutors asked that the victims be allowed to identify themselves by their first names only.

The molestations began in the late 1970s while McCaffrey was in the seminary for theological training and continued after he was ordained in 1978 and well into the late 1980s, the government alleges.

McCaffrey befriended the boys' parents to gain their trust, came up with excuses for the boys to stay overnight with him and then molested them after they fell asleep.

He was removed as an associate pastor from a South Side parish in 1991 after several allegations of sexual misconduct from years earlier were made against him, the Chicago archdiocese has said. He resigned as a priest in 1993.

The statute of limitations to criminally charge McCaffrey, 50, of Chicago, for the molestations has apparently passed.

McCaffrey's lawyer did not return a telephone call Tuesday.

McCaffrey pleaded guilty in September to possessing thousands of computer images of boys as young as 6 engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including sadomasochistic activity showing them being beaten, bound and gagged, and locked in cages.

McCaffrey was never prosecuted for any of the allegedly hundreds of molestations, so prosecutors contend his criminal past is far worse than his record shows and that he is likely to victimize other boys in the future.

He has been held in custody as a danger to the community since his arrest last summer.

If U.S. District Judge John Darrah does not take the molestation allegations into account, McCaffrey faces no more than 10 years in prison, prosecutors calculate.

In the court papers, Funk emphasizes that when McCaffrey was arrested in June he allegedly admitted he was "addicted" to young boys but considered viewing child pornography a "victimless crime."

"Over two decades of therapy have done nothing to diminish defendant's sexual desires for young boys," Funk wrote in the filing.

Jim Dwyer, an archdiocesan spokesman, said Tuesday that church officials didn't receive any indication of McCaffrey's sexual conduct until 1987.

He was not removed from parish duties until four years later.

"Who was aware of what way back when, I have no idea of that," Dwyer said. "He hasn't been a priest for a long time."

The government filing recounts how one victim alleges he was molested on more than 200 occasions by McCaffrey between 1985 and 1989 beginning when the victim was 12.

The victim told authorities that McCaffrey claimed that "God would not have brought us together in this way unless [McCaffrey] was allowed to do this."

The victim said McCaffrey "appeared to glean sexual pleasuring from sadistically abusing the victim," according to the court filing.

Funk said all of the victims have described the detrimental impact McCaffrey's actions had on their personal and family relationships, their religious faith and their ability to trust others.

After his 1978 ordination, McCaffrey worked as an associate pastor at St. Victor in Calumet City until 1982 and then at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wheeling until December 1987. He then was assigned to St. Josephat on Chicago's North Side until mid-1989 and then at Our Lady of Good Counsel until his removal in November 1991.

 
 

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