Woman Says Priest Abused Her, Files Suit
The Rev. Paramo Died in Nursing Home Last Year
By Jonathan Lipman
Daily Southtown [Chicago IL]
May 3, 2005
A 49-year-old Park Forest woman sued an order of Roman Catholic priests Monday, accusing it of protecting a priest she says sexually abused her in the 1960s.
Carmen Severino said she confronted her abuser last year as he lay dying in a nursing home. Although the Rev. Thomas Paramo could not speak, she believes he understood her accusations.
"I told him what he did to me and how it affected my life all these years," Severino said. "He began to cry. I told him it was no longer a secret."
Paramo died at the nursing home eight months ago, said Severino's attorney, Jeff Anderson.
Severino filed her lawsuit Monday in Cook County Circuit Court against Paramo's order, the Claretian Missionaries. The Oak Park-based order ran Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 3200 E. 91st St., Chicago, where Severino worked in the rectory as a young girl and where her uncle was a pastor.
The lawsuit accuses the order of conspiracy, negligence and infliction of emotional distress and asks for at least $300,000 in damages.
Richard Leamy, an attorney for the Claretian Missionaries, said he could not comment on the specific allegations because he had not yet seen the lawsuit, but he called Anderson's Monday press conference "grandstanding."
"I think it's very unfortunate and interesting that these lawyers waited until this poor priest passed away to file this suit if they knew about these accusations for so long as they say they did," Leamy said. "It's just unfair."
The Archdiocese of Chicago referred all questions to the Claretian Missionaries.
Severino said Paramo molested her at the church, beginning in 1966 when she was 11 years old and continuing until she was 15.
Severino is married and has two grown children.
Severino said she came forward after hearing about an October 2003 lawsuit by another man against the same order. Armando Silva, 49, of Chicago's far Southeast Side, had remained anonymous but said he was coming forward Monday to stand with Severino.
Anderson said the order knew Paramo was an abuser and did nothing to stop him.
"This order has given sanctuary to offenders," Anderson said.
Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, praised Severino's courage and called for the archdiocese to launch an aggressive investigation of the order.
"Her (speaking out) gives hope to others ... hope for the future that no more children need to be abused," Blaine said.
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