More Priest Abuse Alleged
By Frank Main, Annie Sweeney and Lucio Guerrero
April 10, 2002
Prosecutors have been notified that a Roman Catholic priest allegedly sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s at a north suburban parish--the second time in two weeks that the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has forwarded decades-old pedophilia allegations to investigators.
The Rev. Richard W. Fassbinder, 75, was assigned to Prince of Peace Church in Lake Villa from 1973 to 1997, when he retired as pastor.
He is accused of sexual misconduct that began in 1975 and continued until the boy reached adulthood. The victim is now in his 40s and lives out of state. He notified the archdiocese of his allegations in December.
The Fitness Review Board, an independent church review panel, investigated and ordered monitoring for Fassbinder, said James Dwyer, a spokesman for the archdiocese. The board recently found more credibility to the allegations and last week passed them on to the Lake County state's attorney's office, he said.
Fassbinder, who lives in Fox Lake now, declined comment Tuesday, saying, "I have nothing to say."
"I'm shocked," said Michael Golebiowski, 30, who was an altar boy for Fassbinder in the mid-1980s. "That has not been my experience at all. I have had a couple of days to think about it and never can I think about one incident. Absolutely 100 percent never.
"He was one of my favorite priests for serving mass. I always liked his message."
The church announced the allegations Tuesday, just about two weeks after the Rev. Robert Kealy resigned as pastor of Saints Faith, Hope and Charity Parish in Winnetka. He was accused of sexual misconduct with a teenager more than 25 years ago.
In the Kealy case, Cook County prosecutors said they are investigating, even though the statute of limitations for sex crimes involving children usually is three years after the victim's 18th birthday.
George Strickland, a Lake County prosecutor, said a lawyer for the archdiocese revealed the allegations against Fassbinder last week.
He would not comment on whether the allegations were too old to prosecute, saying, "The archdiocese gave us information that is sufficiently detailed for us to begin an investigation. We will look for the possible existence of more victims."
Dwyer said he knows of no lawsuits brought against Fassbinder. Under his monitoring program, he has been required to notify the archdiocese of travel from his home and is undergoing counseling. He periodically checks in with the administrator of the Fitness Review Board.
The archdiocese told Prince of Peace parishioners about Fassbinder in a letter mailed Saturday, Dwyer said. The allegations also were announced at weekend masses.
"The climate of sin, distrust and misrepresentation created by a few has given to anger, embarrassment, shame and hurt by many," wrote the Rev. Jerome Listecki, auxiliary bishop of Chicago.
Listecki said the archdiocese received no other complaints against Fassbinder, but encouraged parishioners with more information to contact him.
"The violation of confidence on the part of clergy brings heartache for all of us," he wrote. "We pray for the victims of sexual abuse in the hope that our Lord will bring his healing power to bear on their damage."
Fassbinder was assigned to St. Hugh Church in Lyons, Queen of All Saints in Chicago and St. Emily in Mount Prospect before arriving at Prince of Peace in 1973. Parishioners said they were shocked at the allegations against Fassbinder, whom they described as quiet, reserved and private.
"He was a hard-nosed character," said Bob Kadera, a church member since 1977. "But he was very popular. There was a group of people that were very close to him."
Church bookkeeper Helen Golebiowski, Michael's mother and a parishioner for 28 years, said her other son was also an altar boy for Fassbinder. She had never heard allegations against him.
"I've got nothing but nice things to say about Father Fassbinder," she said, adding she last saw him last year when he showed up for a 25-year celebration for teachers.
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