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  24 Victims of Priests Settle
5 alleged abusers identified for 1st time

By Manya A. Brachear
Chicago Tribune
October 28, 2005

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has reached a settlement with 24 adults who accused 14 priests of molesting them when they were children, including five priests who had not previously been publicly identified as alleged abusers.

Of the 14, one is incarcerated, two have been permanently removed from public ministry, one has left the priesthood, two await a final penalty imposed by Cardinal Francis George, and eight are dead, including the latest five.

Those priests are Eugene Burns, Jeremiah Duggan, Thomas Job, Thomas F. Kelly and Leonard Kmak.

Victims' advocates who announced the settlement Thursday say the fact that the archdiocese had not previously released those names again highlights the need for local church leaders to compile and permanently post the histories of all abusive priests.

Jim Dwyer, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the parishes where the five men served would not be notified, because the men are dead. He said the settlement means all allegations against these priests were deemed credible.

"If we get an allegation on someone who is already dead, we usually don't go to the parish," Dwyer said. "The whole purpose of our policy is to remove somebody from ministry and make sure they are no longer a danger to children. Removing them is a moot point because they are dead. ... They have no ability to defend themselves."

Dwyer also declined to release the names of the parishes where they served, saying the information was not readily available.

The settlement ended more than a year of mediation involving the archdiocese and 24 clients of Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul lawyer. No lawsuits had been filed.

As part of a settlement in October 2003, the archdiocese agreed that if any more priests are removed from ministry because of credible abuse allegations, it would post their names, past assignments and present status on its Web site for 30 days. After that, inquiries about any priest must be submitted through the Web site. Those seeking information must wait about two weeks for a written reply.

"Anything less than a complete and full disclosure is a half truth," Anderson said. "We just want a full truth, and that means total transparency."

Thursday's settlement involves 22 men and two women who contend that 14 priests abused them between 1957 and 1987. The accusers' ages at the time ranged from 8 to 17.

Neither the archdiocese nor the victims' attorneys would release the total amount of the settlement. A 41-year-old man said in an interview that his settlement was $150,000; an advocate for another accuser said the victim was awarded more than half a million dollars.

Anderson announced the settlement at the Allerton Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Chicago. Two of the victims spoke to the media. Peggy Hough of Evanston said Burns abused her from when she was 8 years old until she was 13, and he was a pastor at St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Glenview from 1961 to 1966.

"I am a functioning adult, and that was not always the case," Hough said. "I was threatened by that priest. I was told he would do harm to my brothers by disclosing information about the abuse. And at 8 years old, I quite frankly believed him. So I didn't tell anybody. I have had that secret and shame that I've lived with for decades and until recently kept that secret."

Burns, who died in January, was ordained in 1955 and served as an assistant pastor for six years at St. Anne Parish in Hazel Crest, according to news reports and information provided by the victims' attorneys. Burns also served at St. Nicholas of Tolentine and St. Denis in Chicago, St. Joseph in Homewood, St. Terrence in Alsip, Our Lady of Knock in Calumet City and St. Ann in Lansing.

The abuse allegation against Duggan stems from his time at Queen of Martyrs in Evergreen Park in the 1970s and 1980s. Duggan also worked at St. Bede the Venerable in Chicago at the same time as Rev. Norbert Maday, a convicted child molester incarcerated.

Job served at St. Cletus in La Grange, St. Joseph in Libertyville and St. John Vianny in Northlake, where the abuse is said to have occurred in the early 1970s.

Kelly also served at St. John Vianny and Our Lady of Knock. The abuse allegedly took place in 1973 when he was at St. Therese of the Infant Jesus in Chicago. He also served at St. Catherine of Genoa in Chicago, Queen of Apostles Church in Riverdale, St. Kieran in Chicago Heights and St. James on the South Side.

Between 1960 and 1969, Kmak served at St. Fidelis and St. Veronica in Chicago. He left the priesthood to marry, and the couple helped start a new parish, St. Julie Billiart in Tinley Park. Efforts to reach his widow were unsuccessful Thursday.

Since the 2003 settlement, Anderson's staff has submitted more than 450 requests for information on priests. But in October 2004, Anderson said, the archdiocese stopped responding to the inquiries. Colleen Dolan, director of communications for the archdiocese, said staff had responded to every request.

Other priests and former priests named in Thursday's settlement were William Cloutier, John Curran, James Hagan, Daniel Holihan, Vincent McCaffrey, John Robinson, Marion Snieg, Ralph Strand and Thomas Swade.

New allegations

Abuse allegations against these five priests had not been made public before Thursday. They are listed with the parish where the abuse is said to have occurred.

- Eugene Burns, St. Catherine of Laboure in Glenview, 1961-1966

- Jeremiah Duggan, Queen of Martyrs in Evergreen Park, 1970s and 1980s

- Thomas Job, St. John Vianny in Northlake, early 1970s

- Thomas F. Kelly, Therese of the Infant Jesus in Chicago, 1973

- Leonard Kmak, St. Fidelis in Chicago, 1960-1963

mbrachear@tribune.com

 
 

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