Diaries Detail Alleged Abuse
Priest Accused by 2 of Abusing Them in 1970s
By James Janega
March 4, 2004
Angered by a decade of support for a priest he insists raped him repeatedly in the 1970s, a 40-year-old David Lasley came forward this week with a box of diaries detailing how Rev. John Calicott allegedly abused him as a 13-year-old boy.
He was joined by a life-long friend, Fred Arceneaux, 40, who said he was fondled by Calicott as a teen.
The accusations against Calicott reopen wounds at Holy Angels Parish on the South Side, where Calicott had been the church's pastor until his removal in 2002, when bishops adopted a zero-tolerance policy for priests found to have committed sexual abuse.
Holy Angels released a statement Wednesday supporting Calicott, but neither parish officials nor Calicott would respond to questions about the allegations that focus on a period when Calicott was an associate pastor at St. Ailbe Church.
Officials from the Archdiocese of Chicago also would not comment on specific allegations.
"We never discuss what the victims tell us. They can say what they want, but we don't," archdiocese spokesman James Dwyer said. "If we talk about what they tell us in confidence, it may hurt our attempts to get other victims to come forward."
Based on testimony Lasley and another man, who remains anonymous, gave to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1994, Calicott already had been removed and reinstated after counseling under earlier rules in the archdiocese.
When he was removed again in 2002, Calicott appealed to Rome. His case has raised national questions about what is just for disgraced priests who have already been forgiven.
But for years, Calicott had characterized his relationship with the two previously unnamed boys only as his "mishandling" of what he has said was a "process of trying to deal with a situation."
Last month, he went further, saying "I denied doing what the boy said, presuming what was read to me [by the archdiocese in 1994] was what the boy said I did."
On Wednesday, Lasley said Calicott's public denials had spurred him to publicly discuss sexual acts he said Calicott initiated with him on a camping trip in 1976, and with a still unnamed victim on subsequent outings.
Lasley said Calicott first performed oral sex on him on a group camping trip in Canada in 1976. Lasley said he was terrified and didn't know how to stop him.
"It happened the next night and the next night, and the next night. It wasn't just confined to this trip," he said. "It was other trips, and it was in the rectory in his bed. Over two years."
At times Lasley said it involved the other victim, who has not come forward publicly but whose allegations also were part of the archdiocese's case against Calicott in 1994.
And for the first time, a third alleged victim, Lasley's longtime friend Arceneaux also described an unwanted sexual advance he said Calicott made on a camping trip in 1980.
Arceneaux said he woke up to find Calicott sexually touching his genitals and that when he moved away, Calicott waited a short time and then did the same thing again.
"About a week later, Father had called me over to the rectory, and had told me something about he had been dreaming," Arceneaux said.
Arceneaux said he remained silent when Lasley made his allegations to the archdiocese in 1994, and quietly supported him when he apologized to angry Holy Angels parishioners for their pain weeks later. He said he came forward this time out of guilt.
"I didn't want him to be on his own as he was in 1994," Arceneaux said of Lasley.
Holy Angels parishioners--who still emphatically support Calicott--have said they took Lasley's statements at the time to be a recantation of his accusations against Calicott.
"This is the same man who stood up in church 9 1/2 years ago and said nothing happened. So we are massively confused," Rev. Robert Miller, parish administrator at Holy Angels, said Wednesday of Lasley's renewed allegations.
Lasley provided the Tribune with a copy of the statement he said he read to the parish at the time. While it expresses sympathy for the pain Calicott's original removal brought to Holy Angels and anger at the public way in which the archdiocese carried it out, it neither renews nor recants his charges against Calicott.
Lasley also showed reporters copies of rambling letters he said Calicott wrote to him in the late-1970s and early-1980s.
"I try to sleep and my mind turns to sexual things I wanted to do with you when we were doing it but was too afraid to ask and the thought of these things keep me awake nights," part of one letter reads. "Then I'll think of the really good times we had together and I am saddened because they were tainted by the sex thing that I had at least helped to cause."
Miller looked at a copy of the letters and said they were not in Calicott's handwriting.
Lasley said he went through counseling after coming forward in 1994, and twice considered the priesthood.
Instead, he became a computer consultant and tried to lead a normal life.
"At different times, it did ruin my life," Lasley said.
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