More Allegations against Ex-Priest

By Shamus Toomey
Chicago Daily Herald
December 4, 2002

Prosecutors unleashed a host of new allegations Tuesday against a former Roman Catholic priest from Wheeling, claiming he has an "extraordinarily extensive" history of molesting and raping young boys who looked up to him.

At least 16 boys were molested over the years by former St. Joseph the Worker associate pastor Vincent McCaffrey, including two boys under his care when he was in the seminary, federal prosecutors alleged in court documents filed Tuesday.

The other victims were young parishioners at several Chicago- area churches where McCaffrey was assigned to serve, prosecutors said. He is accused of using alcohol and invoking God's name to repeatedly molest children hundreds of times, including in church rectories, at his Michigan cabin and while they slept, prosecutors alleged.

The new allegations against McCaffrey, 50, were made public just six days before he is to be sentenced on a child pornography conviction. Prosecutors are hoping to use testimony from the victims to increase McCaffrey's maximum sentence from 10 years in prison to 17 years.

McCaffrey, who has been in custody since June, has not been charged with molestation. Prosecutors have said the statute of limitations on the more than decade-old cases has expired, but they have introduced the victim testimony as evidence McCaffrey has a criminal past that should increase his sentence for child pornography.

Seven of the alleged victims have written statements that will be read during the sentencing hearing. At least six of the victims will be flying in from all parts of the country to testify, Assistant U.S. Attorney T. Markus Funk said.

Attorneys on both sides have agreed to let the victims use just their first names when testifying.

"Defendant targeted young boys who were vulnerable and were looking for a father figure or someone to be their big brother," prosecutors said in the court documents. "Defendant made boys feel emotionally close to them. Defendant would befriend boys' parents to gain access and trust."

He pleaded guilty in September to having more than 4,500 lewd images of children at his Chicago home. Police say they were tipped off when McCaffrey's name was found on a list of subscribers to an overseas child porn Web site.

McCaffrey told the FBI he kept the porn to avoid having contact with children, prosecutors said

McCaffrey was ordained in 1978 and served at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Wheeling from 1982 through 1987. Tuesday's court filings do not list which parishes the alleged victims attended. But one man said he was molested more than 200 times by McCaffrey between 1985 and 1989, according to court documents.

That man said he was 12 years old when the molestation began. He told prosecutors McCaffrey would say: "God would not have brought us together in this way unless (McCaffrey) was allowed to do this," the documents said.

McCaffrey's actions continued despite being reprimanded by church officials, prosecutors say. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin removed McCaffrey from a Chicago parish amid abuse allegations in 1991 and forced him to resign in 1992. McCaffrey was given an $85,000 severance package from the Archdiocese of Chicago when he was forced out.

His attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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