New Suit Filed against Diocese

By Edith C. Webster
Rockford Register Star
February 24, 2006

ROCKFORD — A Rockford man who says a now-deceased priest abused him when he was 13 years old filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Catholic Diocese of Rockford.

In a suit seeking damages in excess of $50,000, Donald Bondick says he was repeatedly abused by the Rev. Ted Feeley.

The abuse allegedly took place in 1969, when Feeley was a priest at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Rockford.

"He was a friend, a mentor and someone I looked up to," the retired postal worker said. "I kept silent for 33 years. After depression, suicide attempts and addictions — it's a hard road."

The lawsuit is new, but the allegations were made public in 2002, when St. Anthony parishioners were told about claims against Feeley made by two men.

Feeley left St. Anthony in 1972, then served in San Diego and other West Coast parishes until he died in 1991.

Because Feeley was a Franciscan priest, the lawsuit also names his order, the Chicago-based Conventual Franciscans of St. Bonaventure Province, as a co-defendant.

A phone call to the Franciscans was not returned, and the Rockford Diocese had no comment.

At news conferences in Rockford and Chicago, Bondick was joined by family members and victims' advocates, including representatives from the Rockford chapter of Voice of the Faithful, and Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"The horror of being raped by a priest is unspeakable. Donald is extremely courageous," Blaine said. "We want this action to be a signal for others to come forward."

Arlene Misslich, whose three sons made allegations against another Rockford priest, Harlan Clapsaddle, in 1997, also attended the news conference.

Bondick is being represented by two law firms with national reputations for taking on the Roman Catholic Church, mostly over allegations of clergy abuse: Jeffrey R. Anderson of Minneapolis and Kerns, Pitrof, Frost & Pearlman.

As reported in the Register Star last week, the attorneys recently became co-counsel for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Rockford Diocese and Mark Campobello, a priest sentenced to an eight-year prison term in May 2004 for aggravated sexual abuse.


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