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  55 Credible Accusations of Priests since '93

By Cathleen Falsani
Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]
January 17, 2003

Since January 1993, 55 credible allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor have been leveled against 36 priests of the Archidiocese of Chicago, according to a long-awaited report on clergy sex abuse delivered by Cardinal Francis George on Thursday.

The Chicago archdiocese has spent $16.8 million in the last 10 years to resolve those cases--some dating back 40 years--including $7.9 million in settlements with victims, the report said. Most of the $16.8 million was funded by the sale of undeveloped real estate owned by the Chicago archdiocese.

But "just shy of $1 million" of the money expended was funded by parishioners' donations, said Jimmy Lago, chancellor of the archdiocese. The archdiocese will repay that with revenues from the sale of more real estate, he said.

Since January 1993, 55 credible allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor have been leveled against 36 priests of the Archidiocese of Chicago, according to a long-awaited report on clergy sex abuse delivered by Cardinal Francis George on Thursday.

The Chicago archdiocese has spent $16.8 million in the last 10 years to resolve those cases--some dating back 40 years--including $7.9 million in settlements with victims, the report said. Most of the $16.8 million was funded by the sale of undeveloped real estate owned by the Chicago archdiocese.

But "just shy of $1 million" of the money expended was funded by parishioners' donations, said Jimmy Lago, chancellor of the archdiocese. The archdiocese will repay that with revenues from the sale of more real estate, he said.

In the future, no parishioner donations will be used to cover costs related to sex abuse allegations, George said. The cardinal also repeated something he said last spring, that victims who have signed confidentiality agreements with the archdiocese as a condition of their settlements with the church are released from those agreements.

The report also notes a change in policy that states the archdiocese will no longer sign legal agreements that have confidentiality clauses in sex abuse cases. None of the 36 priests accused of sex abuse of children is serving in any ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Lago said.

"Chicago did face up to its terrible scandal 10 years ago ... and Cardinal Bernardin's leadership at that time has provided the archdiocese with policies that have proven effective," George said. "I inherited a very good situation in many ways."

"The goal of all of this was, then and now, to reach out to the victims, to take care of the priests who have abused young people, and to heal the wounds of the church."

Chicago is only the second Roman Catholic diocese in the United States to produce such a report, said Claire Noonan, spokeswoman for the liberal-leaning Catholic reform group, Call to Action, which has been monitoring the sex abuse scandal closely.

Cardinal James Keeler of Baltimore released a similar report for his diocese last fall. The Baltimore report included a list of names of all the priests who have allegations of sexual abuse against them.

The Chicago report did not contain such a list, despite repeated pleas from the media and clergy sex abuse victims advocacy groups.

George was opposed to releasing such a list, Lago said, because it would contain the names of dead priests. And releasing a list of names of accused abusers could get the archdiocese in legal trouble, he said.

Most of the 36 priests referred to in the Chicago report have never been convicted of child abuse or been through civil trials, Lago said, adding, "All priests removed have been publicly identified. Parishes have been notified."

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese confirmed 22 of the 36 names culled from news reports. "About nine" of the 36 men are priests who were disciplined publicly by Joseph Bernardin before 1993, but about whom new allegations were leveled since 1993, George said.

"What we were looking for in the report was openness, compassion and prevention," said Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests. "The report is a step in the right direction of openness, but it is merely a step. I feel they are continuing the pattern of secrecy by refusing to release the names."


WHEN IT HAPPENED, HOW MUCH IT COST

Statistics from the Ten Year Report on Clerical Sexual Abuse of Minors in the Archdiocese of Chicago:

* Since January 1993, the archdiocese has found there is "reasonable cause to suspect that sexual abuse of a minor occurred in 55 incidents, dating back 40 years, involving 36 archdiocesan priests."

* Of the 55 abuse incidents, none occurred within the last 12 years; four happened before 1960; 12 between 1961 and 1970; 29 between 1971 and 1980, and 10 between 1981 and 1990.

* Of the 36 archdiocesan priests with founded allegations, 19 have been removed from all ministry, nine have resigned and eight are dead.

* The Chicago archdiocese has spent $16.8 million in the last 10 years on sex abuse cases, including $7.9 million on settlements, $4.6 million on the treatment and monitoring of abusers and $4.3 million in legal fees.

Priests accused of abusing children

Listed below are the names of 22 priests or former priests who the Archdiocese of Chicago has confirmed are among the 36 who have had credible allegations made against them in the last 10 years. ("Left" means the man left the priesthood.)


Richard Bartz (left)
Peter Bowman
Daniel Buck
John Calicott
Walter DeRoeck (left)
Richard Fassbinder
James Hagan (left)
Daniel Holihan
Walter Huppenbauer
Robert Kealy
John Keehan
William Lupo (left)
Vincent McCaffrey (left)
Donald Mulsoff
James Ray
John Robinson
Kenneth Ruge (dead)
Raymond Skriba
Marion Snieg
Ralph Strand
Thomas Swade
Joseph Thomas

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