$8 Million to Victims in Sex Abuse Cases
By Rob Olmstead
About a year and a half ago, Stan Cwikla was sitting in his Fox Lake kitchen with his wife while the TV news droned in the background.
The story on the tube was about priests who sexually abused children.
Offhandedly, almost as a joke, Cwikla's wife asked him if he had even been abused by a priest.
"And I just blurted out, 'Yeah, I was,'" recalled Cwikla.
It was the first time in his life Cwikla had told anyone he had been abused more than 40 years ago as a teen in Chicago.
Thursday, attorneys for Cwikla and 14 other victims settled lawsuits with the Archdiocese of Chicago for $8 million. The settlements come on the heels of four other cases settled earlier this year for $4 million involving five victims.
The settlements, announced Thursday at a downtown news conference by victims' attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, involved 12 priests. Four of those priests have served in Palatine, Buffalo Grove, Grayslake, Des Plaines, Wheeling, Waukegan and Round Lake, but the cases settled did not involve victims from those areas.
Insurance and the sale of undeveloped church lands will pay the bill, said Chancellor Jimmy Lago in a prepared statement.
As part of the settlement, the Chicago Archdiocese will be the first in the nation to post the names, history and status of any priests they believe to be sex abusers. However, the information will be posted on the archdiocese's Web site for only 30 days. The information will still be available via phone, though, said church spokesman Jim Dwyer.
The church is also providing counseling and will sponsor victims conferences to help them find support. Cardinal Francis George has offered to meet with victims if they wish.
Cwikla has little desire to meet with the cardinal.
"I know it's not the cardinal's fault," he said.
If Cwikla had his way, he'd rather meet with his abuser, Marion Snieg, in front of the cardinal and tell Snieg the damage he did. Cwikla, a self-professed alcoholic, said he began drinking for years as a result of the abuse but has improved since coming forward.
"I hope God can forgive him (Snieg), because I can't," said Cwikla.
Settlements involving suburban priests
The archdiocese is settling cases involving 12 priests accused of molesting children from 1954 to 1990. The following priests accused in the civil cases once served in suburban parishes, but it is not alleged that molestation took place there. All have resigned, been removed from ministry or died. Church officials have said they believe complaints against the men are credible, but the priests have not been charged with any crimes.
Daniel Buck: St. Thomas Villanova in Palatine, 1985-1989; St. Mary's in Buffalo Grove, 2002. Buck is appealing his removal.
Walter Huppenbauer: St. Gilbert in Grayslake, 1977-1983; St. Thomas of Villanova in Palatine, 1971-1977, 1983-1994; and pastor emeritus 2001-2003
Vincent E. McCaffrey: St. Joseph the Worker in Wheeling, 1982- 1987
Raymond F. Skriba: St. Joseph in Round Lake, 1971-1976 and 1984-2002; Immaculate Conception in Waukegan, 1976-1984
Marion Snieg: St. Thomas Villanova in Palatine 1993-2002; Addolorata Villa in Wheeling, 1993-1996
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