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  Abuse Report

By Michelle Martin
Catholic New World [Chicago IL]
Downloaded January 21, 2003

Nearly a year in the works, a report summarizing clerical sexual abuse of minors over the past 10 years and how the Archdiocese of Chicago has responded was expected to be released as the Catholic New World went to press.

After reviewing allegations deemed credible by the archdiocese’s professional review board, archdiocesan Chancellor Jimmy Lago said he found 55 allegations dating back 40 years and involving 36 priests. None of the incidents took place after 1991, he said, and all of the priests involved have resigned, been removed from ministry or died.

In that time, the archdiocese has spent a total of $16.8 million on costs associated with clerical sexual abuse, including settlements, assistance to victims, treatment of priests and legal costs. The total includes $1.3 million to defend a priest and school principal who were found to be innocent, Lago said.

The report has been in the works since last spring as the archdiocese began confronting the first new allegations of priestly misconduct.

In it, Lago wrote, “While the officials of the Archdiocese of Chicago acknowledge that even one incident of clerical sexual abuse is one too many, this report demonstrates that the efforts of the archdiocese during the past 10 years to address this issue have resulted in three significant realities. First, no priest with a substantiated allegation of clerical sexual misconduct with minors is engaged in any form of ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Second, officials of the archdiocese have shared files on all allegations with appropriate public authorities and will continue to do so. Third, the Archdiocese of Chicago continues to do everything it can to ensure the safety of children in its parishes and schools.

The complete report, similar to one released by Cardinal Bernardin in 1992, was expected to be released Jan. 15. Full details of the report will be included in the next issue, dated Feb. 2.

In addition to the case summary and financial report, the document will include:

v historical context and perspective

v a revised archdiocesan policy that complies with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the norms approved by the U.S. bishops

v a section explaining that Cardinal George has released all victims from any confidentiality agreements that were part of their settlements

v a section detailing the requirements that allegations be reported to state authorities

v information about the canonical process accused priests will face

v and a short summary of the public hearings on clerical sexual abuse conducted by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago last May.

The report is specific to Chicago archdiocesan clergy and does not include information about allegations of abuse by priests from other dioceses or religious orders, even if it took place in Chicago, nor does it include the names of the priests involved, Lago said.

The report was to be released just over a week after another archdiocesan priest was publicly removed from ministry the first week of January. Parishioners at Queen of the Rosary Parish in Elk Grove Village expressed shock at the news, delivered in a Jan. 4 letter from Auxiliary Bishop Jerome E. Listecki, that associate pastor Father John A. Robinson had been accused of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy 30 years ago, when Robinson served at St. Priscilla Parish in Chicago.

According to the letter, the archdiocese first received the allegations last summer. The archdiocesan Fitness Review Board recommended that Robinson be removed from ministry after a second-stage review, pending a canonical investigation and trial. Cardinal George accepted that recommendation in late December.

Members of St. Joseph Parish in Round Lake received another Jan. 4 letter from Bishop Listecki, advising them that Father Raymond F. Skriba, who had served as their pastor until being removed from ministry in July, would remain withdrawn from ministry following a second-stage review. Two women have accused Skriba of engaging in sexual misconduct nearly 40 years ago, when they were teenagers, when he was assigned to St. Gertrude Parish in Franklin Park. The archdiocese also has referred Skriba’s case for a canonical trial.

Also, an alleged victim told reporters Jan. 13 that the archdiocesan review board had concluded that he had credible claims against Father James Hagan, who was removed from ministry in 1996 because of charges of sexual misconduct with minors.

Hagan, pastor of St. Denis Parish on the Southwest Side in 1996, was removed from ministry because of allegations stemming from his time as associate pastor at St. Richard Parish in the early 1980s. Donald Robinson, who came forward this week, said Hagan abused him when he was a student at St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy School in Oak Park in the 1970s. Hagan served in that parish from 1974-1981. He has since resigned from priesthood.

 
 

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