Pastor of Holy Angels Accused of Sex Abuse

By Scott Fornek and Philip Franchine
Chicago Sun-Times
April 12, 1994

The pastor of Holy Angels Parish has been accused of sexual misconduct with minors by two grown men who say they were abused 18 years ago while the priest was assigned to another church, the Chicago archdiocese said Monday.

The accused Roman Catholic priest, the Rev. John W. Calicott, was placed on administrative leave last week after the unidentified men made the allegations, said Bob Quakenbush, an archdiocesan spokesman.

"No suggestions should be made of guilt or innocence based on his being placed on administrative leave," Quakenbush said. "We have received no other allegations regarding him prior to this."

Calicott, 46, has been pastor of Holy Angels Parish, 607 E. Oakwood Blvd., since October, 1991, when the Rev. George Clements, stepped down.

Officials could not explain why the two accusers were coming forward with the allegations now. They contacted the archdiocese late last month to report incidents they said happened in 1976, when they were minors.

At that time, Calicott was an associate pastor at St. Ailbe's Roman Catholic Church, 9015 S. Harper, his first assignment as a priest. But it's not clear if the men have alleged they were abused at the parish, Quakenbush said.

Calicott could not be reached for comment, but the Rev. Michael Pfleger, his friend for 30 years, said the public disclosure of the allegations before they were fully investigated needlessly tarnished Calicott's reputation.

"We're going from one extreme to the other -- from complete cover-up for years to you're automatically guilty and picked up and moved out," said Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina's, 1210 W. 78th Pl.

"He has brought credibility to the church in the African-American community," Pfleger said. Calicott is the only reason some African Americans today are Catholics, he said.

The archdiocese's Professional Fitness Review Board recommended Wednesday that Calicott be placed on leave during the inquiry. The nine-member panel considers whether "there is reasonable cause" that children might be at risk.

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin accepted the recommendation. The board now must recommend whether or not Calicott should return to his ministry.

Prosecutors will review the archdiocese's findings to determine if criminal charges are warranted, said a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney.

Calicott was ordained in 1974 after graduating from St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, in Mundelein, officials said. He was associate pastor at St. Ailbe's until 1980 when he was moved to Holy Name of Mary Church, 11159 S. Loomis. He next replaced Clements, who crusaded for adoption and against drugs and now runs a drug rehabilitation program out of Washington, D.C.

Parishioners at all three churches where Calicott has been were told the news during weekend masses. Several said they are praying for him.

"I was just stunned," said Ora Dark, of Holy Angels. "I don't think he did it. As far as I know he was a very good priest to me."


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