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  Priest Is Charged in Sex Abuse
Officials Say Pastor Molested 2 Boys

By Andrew L. Wang, Crystal Yednak and Brendan McCarthy
Chicago Tribune
January 22, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0601220153jan22,1,4429917.story?page=2&coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed

A Roman Catholic priest at a West Side church was charged Saturday with molesting two preteen boys at the church in several incidents since 2001, authorities said.

Rev. Daniel J. McCormack, 37, of the 8800 block of West 167th Street in Orland Hills, was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim younger than 13. Judge Colleen Hyland ordered him held in lieu of $200,000 bail at the Cook County Jail.

McCormack is accused of abusing two boys, a 13-year-old Chicago resident and an 11-year-old from Willowbrook, according to court records.

He is the pastor of St. Agatha Church at 3147 W. Douglas Blvd., said John Gorman, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office. McCormack also is a teacher and basketball coach at Our Lady of the Westside School, Gorman said. The school has two campuses, one of which is adjacent to the church, in the Lawndale neighborhood.

Dianne Dunagan, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese of Chicago, said the organization is fully cooperating with officials.

"We did receive information about an allegation involving sexual misconduct by Father McCormack," she said. "We turned the information over to authorities."

Dunagan said the priest was temporarily removed from the parish after the archdiocese received reports of the allegations against McCormack.

She declined to say when the archdiocese first learned of the allegations or when McCormack was removed.

Alleged abuse was in rectory

According to court records, the 13-year-old allegedly was molested several times from Sept. 1, 2001, through Jan. 31, 2005. Gorman said that McCormack was the boy's basketball coach and that the alleged abuse occurred in the church's rectory "two or three times a month after school."

The 11-year-old was abused on Dec. 1 and Dec. 24, 2003, when the boy was alone with the priest after mass, Gorman said.

After the incidents, "the defendant told the victim not to tell anyone and gave the victim various gifts," he said.

A family member of the 11-year-old declined to comment. The family of the 13-year-old could not be reached Saturday.

The judge granted the prosecutor's request for special conditions of release on bail, including that McCormack is prohibited from having contact with anyone under 18.

As of Saturday evening, he had not posted bail, said a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff's office.

Orland Hills police arrested McCormack at 7 p.m. Friday in his home, court records show. McCormack was turned over to Chicago Police Department officers. He is scheduled to appear again in court on Jan. 23. (This paragraph as published has been corrected in this text.)

The president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called for others in the community to speak out.

"A charge doesn't guarantee a conviction, so it's crucial that other witnesses and victims come forward," Barbara Blaine said. "When victims stay silent, nothing changes. But when victims speak up, at least there's a chance for healing, justice and prevention."

Calls for comment to Patrick G. Reardon, McCormack's attorney, were not returned.

Since the Catholic priest sex-abuse scandal gained national attention several years ago, numerous priests have been charged and removed from ministry in the Chicago area.

In October, the archdiocese settled with 24 adults who had accused 14 priests of molesting them when they were children.

McCormack became pastor of St. Agatha in 2000, according to a 2002 interview published on an archdiocesan Web site, Black Catholic Chicago.

He said in the interview that he was raised on the Southwest Side and grew up in the parish of St. Mary Star of the Sea.

He graduated from St. Mary's in 1982 and studied at Quigley Seminary South, according to the interview.

The site said that after graduating from high school in 1986, he attended Niles College of Loyola University and the University of St. Mary of the Lake-Mundelein Seminary, where he received a master's degree in divinity.

He was ordained in 1994 and was assigned to St. Ailbe Catholic Church at 9015 S. Harper Ave., where he served until 1997, according to the site. In 1997, McCormack joined the faculty of St. Joseph Seminary of Loyola University.

Parishioners stunned

The news of McCormack's arrest surprised parishioners arriving at St. Agatha Saturday afternoon for a monthly community dinner to feed the hungry.

"He's a great pastor," Keenan Seabrook said. "He was extremely involved."

"We're praying for all the parties involved," Wynona Redmond said. "These are serious allegations."

The congregation would persevere through these charges, she said.

"We'll do what we always do," Redmond said. "We're a strong community of faith."

 
 

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