Lawsuit Wants Name of Every Accused Priest
By Manya A. Brachear
February 1, 2006
Seeking information instead of a financial settlement, plaintiffs in the first civil suit filed by an alleged victim of Rev. Daniel McCormack want the Chicago archdiocese to publish the names of all priests accused of sexual misconduct with children--a move church officials have repeatedly declined to make.
The suit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court seeks an injunction that would force the archdiocese to give up the names of all accused priests--dead or alive--as well as documentation of the allegations made against them.
"I finally decided to take action to get the court to order disclosure of the names of offenders who are known and offenders who they suspect, but which are kept secret such as McCormack," said Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul lawyer who represents clergy sex abuse victims and has pressed the archdiocese to broadcast the names for years.
Anderson filed the suit on the same day the archdiocese confirmed for the Tribune that it had reasonable cause to suspect Monsignor Dominic Diederich, the former pastor of St. Maurice Catholic Church, 3615 S. Hoyne Ave., engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor. Diederich died in 1977.
"Even if an offender is dead, they have left a long trail of broken souls and innocence lost and wounded children now adults suffering and blaming themselves," Anderson said. Revealing the name "assists them in the recovery process."
Anderson is seeking class action status for the lawsuit filed Tuesday. Plaintiffs so far include a mother and child who approached Anderson this past weekend with at least the fifth allegation against McCormack reported in less than two weeks. Sources said an investigation is under way.
Authorities heard allegations in August that the priest had sexually abused a child. Police and prosecutors lacked sufficient evidence to press charges. The archdiocese appointed a priest to monitor McCormack's contact with children at the rectory of St. Agatha Catholic Church, 3147 W. Douglas Blvd., but left him in ministry.
McCormack, 37, was arrested when a second accuser came forward. The priest was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim younger than 13 involving two boys.
Prosecutors are also investigating a claim McCormack's possible inappropriate contact with a child in 2000 and an alleged incident in 2001.
Cardinal Francis George has since apologized for mishandling the allegations. On Monday he expressed regret to a hall packed with parents and parishioners angry that he did not ask the priest to step aside last year. Concerned Catholics also attended the rare open forum.
One of them was Barbara Foreman of La Grange, who contacted the archdiocese about Diederich. Her inquiry revealed that church officials had reason to believe Diederich engaged in sexual misconduct with a child.
"Why do the interests of dead priests take precedence over live victims?" Foreman asked.
On Tuesday, archdiocese spokesman Jim Dwyer said the archdiocese welcomed information about Diederich. But his name still will not be posted on the kind of list the suit seeks.
"You can't remove a dead man from ministry," Dwyer said.
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