Two Claim Priest Abuse As Boys, Plan Suit

By Cathleen Falsani
Chicago Sun-Times
February 14, 2003

A former Augustinian order Roman Catholic priest, who until last week worked as a docent and guest services supervisor at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, has been accused of sexually abusing at least two boys while he was a parish priest on the South Side in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Two alleged victims are expected to file a lawsuit against John D. Murphy, 60, the Augustinian order, St. Rita parish at 62nd and Fairfield, and the Chicago Archdiocese in Cook County Circuit Court this morning. The victims, identified as John Doe 74A and John Doe 74B, accuse the archdiocese and the Augustinian order of moving Murphy, who left the priesthood in 1993, from parish to parish despite knowing of abuse allegations against him.

Reached at his home in Burbank on Thursday evening, Murphy said only, "I don't think there's any profit for me to comment."

John Doe 74A says he was a 10-year-old boy interested in the priesthood when he was introduced to Murphy, then vocations director for the Augustinians in the Chicago area, in 1970. The priest took the boy on several trips to an Augustinian retreat in Wisconsin between 1970 and 1972, where he wrestled with the boy in his underwear and fondled him on several occasions, Doe 74A alleges.

A decade later, in 1980, John Doe 74B was a 10-year-old altar boy at St. Rita of Cascia when he met Murphy, a parish priest in charge of altar servers. Doe 74B says that over the course of several years, the priest sexually abused him in his office in the basement of the rectory.

Doe 74B says he reported the abuse to the archdiocese in 1992. Doe 74A only reported the abuse to church authorities recently.

"The anger I have for John Murphy is minimal," Doe 74B said Thursday. "I'm just livid at the Catholic church for allowing this to go on. How many more 10-year-old kids have been molested by this man?"

The Rev. Jerome Knies, spokesman for the Midwest province of the Augustinians, said two people made allegations of abuse against Murphy in 1980 or 1981 and again in 1993. Knies said he did not know if the two allegations the Augustinians knew of were the same as John Does 74A and 74B.

Murphy was "professionally evaluated" after the 1980 allegation and was deemed safe to stay in ministry. He was moved to St. Rita parish in Racine, Wis., where he served until 1993, when a second allegation of abuse came to light, Knies said. Murphy asked to leave the priesthood at that time, Knies said.

Last week, Murphy resigned the position he'd held at Shedd since 1994, said Roger German, a spokesman for the aquarium. The Shedd was not aware of any allegations of abuse in Murphy's background, German said.

John Doe 74A, now a 44-year-old father of two, says he tracked down Murphy at the Shedd about five years ago.

"I went up and asked if he was Father Murphy, and he said, 'No. I'm John Murphy,'" Doe 74A recalled in an interview Thursday. "I told him, 'When I was a boy, you did some things to me you shouldn't have done.' And he looked down at the ground and said, 'I meant you no harm.' I asked him if he knew who I was. He looked down and said [my name]."

Then the man asked Murphy what he really wanted to know: "Are you still doing this?"

Murphy shook his head no.


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