Woman Sues Priest
Says He Fondled Her

By Jennifer A. Bowen
Belleville News-Democrat
February 6, 2002

A Catholic priest who earlier was cleared of sexual misconduct has been accused of fondling a 52-year-old woman during their counseling sessions.

Judy L. Hangsleben of New Baden filed a lawsuit Tuesday in St. Clair County Circuit Court, accusing her parish priest, the Rev. Daniel L. Friedman, of fondling her at his Aviston church.

In her suit, Hangsleben alleged that Friedman, a priest at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Aviston, fondled her breasts on at least three occasions in 2000 during counseling sessions addressing her history of sexual abuse as a child.

"This man knows in great detail I have a history of child sexual abuse," Hangsleben said. "The first time he did this I was so stunned I didn't know what to say. I thought the guy was going psycho. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll came in and fondles you, Mr. Hyde flops down on the chair and asks you what's new."

Hangsleben said she told Friedman, 55, several times not to touch her, but he refused.

Friedman, formerly a chaplain at Camp Ondessonk, a Catholic summer camp for children, was earlier named in a lawsuit filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville by William Benton of Carbondale.

Benton alleged Friedman made sexual advances toward him at the camp in 1986. In September 1996, Friedman was placed on administrative leave but later was cleared by the Diocesan Review Board and returned to his ministry. He was assigned to be pastor at the Aviston church.

"When I first heard the allegations against him I thought there was no way they could be true, not against this man," Hangsleben said. "Now I'm seriously having second thoughts about it."

Hangsleben said she contacted the Belleville Diocese about Friedman's alleged behavior but received the brush-off.

"I was told that the diocesan review board doesn't deal with matters of misconduct between adult women and priests and that they are only concerned with the abuse of minors by priests," she said. "It was like a slap in the face to all women who are in my position."

Neither Friedman nor Monsignor James E. Margason could be reached Tuesday for comment.

Hangsleben is seeking $100,000 in damages from the church and Friedman for sexual battery, emotional distress and medical expenses resulting from the alleged abuse, according to the suit.


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