Priest Leaves after Abuse Allegation
Officials Think He Went Home to India
By Chris Fusco
May 12, 2002
A priest at a large Northwest Side parish has left Chicago and is believed to be back in his home country of India, apparently after learning that he is being accused of sexual abuse.
The Rev. Sleeva Raju Policetti of St. Tarcissus parish disappeared after the Archdiocese of Chicago called the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on Monday about an allegation involving the priest and a teenage girl, archdiocese spokesman Jim Dwyer said.
The archdiocese was advised not to tell Policetti about the situation, but he apparently "somehow found out about it and left," Dwyer said.
Policetti's brother, the Rev. Prasad Rao Policetti, also a priest in Chicago, has gone on leave from his duties at St. Monica parish. "It's my understanding the brother has been cooperating with authorities," Dwyer said.
Police and the Cook County state's attorney's office want to question Sleeva Raju Policetti about the allegation, which was relayed to an official at the Norwood Park church by an adult parishioner.
Policetti, known as "Father Raju" by parishioners at St. Tarcissus, 6020 W. Ardmore, had been at the parish since 1996. The archdiocese knows of no previous misconduct charges against him.
He had been telling members of the congregation that he was planning to return to India over the summer to run a school.
Chicago police did not discuss details of the investigation, saying only that they were looking into a report of "improper behavior by a priest."
"There is no one in custody, and no one is charged at this time," said officer Wayne Frisbie, a police spokesman.
Both Policettis are extern priests, meaning they are working outside their diocese or religious community. Both are based in Hyderabad, India. "We've been in contact with his bishop," Dwyer said. "He understands that if he shows up back where he was ordained, we've instructed him to come back to Chicago."
Letters about the situation will be distributed to St. Tarcissus parishioners at Saturday and Sunday masses, Dwyer said.
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