No Formal Policy on Assault Claims by Adults
Even If Relationship Were Consensual, 'It's Sinful': George
By Cathleen Falsani
May 24, 2002
When it's an adult, rather than a child, who is the victim in an alleged case of clergy sexual abuse, the legal and moral lines become considerably more blurry.
The man who went on national TV on Thursday and accused Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland of sexually assaulting him and then paying him $450,000 to keep quiet about it, was 33 when the alleged assault happened in 1979.
In a Chicago case wending its way through the civil courts, in which the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is named as a defendant, a former seminarian from Mexico has accused a priest of sexually assaulting him in 1999 in the rectory of St. Mark's Church in Humboldt Park when the accuser was 21.
The Rev. Domingo Hurtado-Badillo, 40, was acquitted of a charge of criminal sexual assault in June 2000, but he was removed from active parish ministry when he was arrested in January 2000 and has not been reinstated, said Jim Dwyer, spokesman for the Chicago Archdiocese. That's because Hurtado-Badillo's trial in 2000 showed he'd done things that were morally wrong, Dwyer said.
Hurtado-Badillo now works in "some sort of hospital ministry" in the Chicago area, Dwyer said, and is still monitored by church officials. He could not be reached for comment.
According to court documents, Hurtado-Badillo, who was ordained in 1993, pleaded guilty in 1998 to misdemeanor public indecency after he was arrested by Cook County Forest Preserve police in Schiller Woods and accused of performing a sex act on another man.
In court filings, lawyers for the archdiocese deny any culpability for Hurtado-Badillo's actions.
The pending civil case accuses Hurtado-Badillo of taking his alleged victim and other students from Casa Jesus--a yearlong program for young Hispanic men considering the priesthood--to gay bars in Chicago "as part of his religious education in learning to accept all types of people."
The suit also says the priest made unwanted sexual advances toward the man, hugging, kissing and touching the man's genitals.
Speaking generally about clergy sexual misconduct with adults, Cardinal Francis George said Thursday, "It's a question of behavior that is consistent with the episcopal vocation."
Even if a sexual relationship with an adult were consensual, George said, "It's sinful. It's shameful. A priest has betrayed his promise [of celibacy], and also the Sixth Commandment."
Since he arrived in Chicago in 1997, George has removed two priests from parish ministry over accusations of sexual misconduct with adults--Hurtado-Badillo and the Rev. Walter Strus of St. Mary of Perpetual Help in Chicago, who has been accused in a lawsuit of raping a Polish woman and fathering her child. Strus was removed from active ministry last month.
Unlike its formal policy for handling allegations of clergy sexual misconduct with minors, the Chicago Archdiocese has "basic guidelines" for dealing with allegations of misconduct with adults, Dwyer said.
"They tend to mimic the ones for minors, but they are not as formal, not as rigid," he said, declining to say how many complaints the archdiocese receives about clergy misconduct with adults.
"The protocol we have is simple enough and, I think, adequate," George said of the archdiocese's method of vetting such cases.
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