Joliet Diocese Sued
Men claim Imesch knew of sex abuse when he transferred Gibbney
Daily Southtown [Tinley Park IL]
February 3, 2006
[Survivor's name redacted on 9/7/07 at his request.]
Special to the Daily Southtown
Two more men filed lawsuits against the Joliet Diocese on Thursday, claiming
Bishop Joseph Imesch and other diocese officials are responsible for alleged
sexual abuse by former priest Michael Gibbney.
[Redacted], 38, and David Mortell, 37, accuse Gibbney of molesting them
beginning when they were 11 and 13 years old in 1979 and 1981, respectively.
The lawsuits claim that Imesch was aware of Gibbney's inappropriate conduct
with boys at Mary Queen of Heaven parish in Elmhurst when the bishop moved
him to St. Dominic and St. Francis of Assisi parishes in Bolingbrook.
Imesch was aware of accusations that "Father Gibbney sexually molested
several boys. His response was to move Gibbney to another parish rather
than limit his access to children," said Joliet attorney Mike Bolos,
who represents both men. "Rather than protect these children, they
played a shell game that protected their priests."
[Redacted] went public with his accusation in June and detailed his experiences
on a Web site. He asked the diocese to pay for his more than $200,000
in counseling and medical bills but said Thursday those negotiations proved
"They merely refused to compensate," [Redacted] said. "I
would be surprised if they made any motion to compensate any victim."
[Redacted] seeks at least $5 million from the diocese in his lawsuit;
Mortell seeks in excess of $1 million.
[Redacted]'s lawsuit summarizes the experiences he wrote about on his
Web site, including how Gibbney exploited the boy's interest in photography
to get him alone in a darkroom the priest had set up at St. Francis of
Assisi. The priest developed the boy's trust and later plied him with
alcohol, took him on out-of-state trips in a motor home, showed him pornography
and molested him, the suit states.
Mortell claims that in 1981 Gibbney took him and another boy to the College
of DuPage to play racquetball, and they spent an inordinate amount of
time together in the showers afterward. Gibbney then took the boys back
to St. Francis of Assisi for pizza and suggested that they spend the night
in his motor home, according to the lawsuit. It says that after giving
the boys alcohol, the priest suggested giving them nude massages to soothe
their sore muscles and molested Mortell.
Mortell's mother was working at Mary Queen of Heaven in Elmhurst in 2002
when the parish received a letter from Imesch about James Fonck's lawsuit
against Gibbney and the diocese. She questioned her son about Gibbney,
causing Mortell to discover the psychological harm caused by the abuse
years earlier, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuits say that in 2004, Imesch acknowledged that the diocese had
received 113 complaints of sexual misconduct with minors involving 27
different priests during the previous 54 years.