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  Roman Catholic Chaplain Quits Post Amid Sex Scandal
Critics Say Priest Should Not Have Been Assigned to U of C

NBC 5 [Chicago IL]
February 9, 2005

CHICAGO -- The Roman Catholic chaplain at the University of Chicago's Catholic Center has quit on Tuesday, one day after a former student of his came forward claiming that the chaplain had sexually exploited him years ago.

The man, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the Rev. Michael Yakaitis had an abusive sexual relationship with him when the man was a seminarian 15 years ago, adding that he told seminary officials at the time.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests met outside the office of the university's president on Monday, where they raised questions about the priest and asked that he be removed, NBC5's Mary Ann Ahern reported. Critics said to place a priest back in the same age group as the young man with whom he had a sexual relationship is outrageous.

"The priest has used his position of power and authority for sexual gratification," said SNAP spokeswoman Barbara Blaine. "That is a violation and anyone that has done that should not be allowed to continue in a position of power and authority."

Yakaitis, who has resided at the university's Catholic Center called Calvert House for the past three years, admitted that he had a sexual relationship with a seminarian at Niles College, but said it was an "adult" relationship. At the time, Yakaitis was the dean of students, while the seminarian was 18 years old.

"Father Yakaitis clearly and pointedly implied that if I came forward or attempted to come forward, he would out me as a gay man, would divulge that I was having gay relationships, that he would see me expelled from the seminary, and then he would see me outed to my family and to the Archdiocese," the man said.

In a statement late Tuesday afternoon, the former seminarian who spoke out said the resignation helps move the healing process along, but he now looks to Francis Cardinal George for an apology and an explanation.

"As a 20-year-old, I brought this issue to the diocese alone without my family. I had to sit in a room with men that I had never met and divulge some of the most embarrassing and painful events of my life," the man said.

Ahern reported that even though the seminary was told twice about the allegations against Yakaitis, he was assigned to Calvert House, and before that, the Archdiocese placed him as the pastor of St. Barbara's on the city's south side. The Archdiocese will not say whether the cardinal did or did not know about Yakaitis' treatment and will not yet offer an explanation of why he was placed on a college campus.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Yakaitis said he acknowledges that he engaged in sexual activity with the man 15 years ago when the man was an adult seminarian. Yakaitis added that he received counseling and residential treatment and that, "I have remained celibate and chaste since my return from treatment."

 
 

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