3 Priest Abuse Suits Filed
Plaintiff Alleges Cleric Sent Him Gifts from Sex-Treatment Facility
By Manya A. Brachear firstname.lastname@example.org
March 4, 2006
The store-bought valentine was manufactured "For a special boy."
The personal message, penned by Rev. Anthony Ross, was intended for a 17-year-old parishioner he had fondled and molested, according to a lawsuit.
"This was so cute, You were the first special little guy I thought of. With lots of love, Fr. Ross."
That greeting card, a package of bodybuilding shorts and letters requesting nude photographs were mailed in 1983 from a California facility for priests who sexually abused minors, according to one of three lawsuits filed last week in Will County against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet and Bishop Joseph Imesch.
The lawsuits disclose even more sordid details of sexual misconduct in the Joliet diocese by clergy transferred by Imesch to other parishes or different dioceses across the country.
All three plaintiffs allege they were abused by then-Rev. Larry Mullins, now executive director of Independent Electrical Contractors, a Washington-based trade association. However, Mullins is named as a defendant in only the first two suits.
The third plaintiff names Ross, a priest who is appealing to the Vatican to reverse the verdict of a canonical trial that removed him from ministry.
George Fehrenbacher alleges Mullins abused him at the family's home from 1975 to 1978 when the priest was there to counsel his brother Christopher, who sued in 2004 alleging Mullins abused him.
Fehrenbacher and another man identified only as Benedict Doe also allege that Mullins fondled and molested them at the school, sacristy and rectory of the Cathedral of St. Raymond from 1978 to 1980.
The third plaintiff, identified only as Adam Doe, said in his suit that from 1975 to 1980 he too was abused by Mullins, who coached basketball at the parish school.
Players nicknamed Mullins "Father Gacy," after a Chicago-area serial killer and molester of boys. He earned the name by coming into the locker room to watch players change clothes and seek "an opportunity to isolate a boy and stick his hand in the boy's pants," the suit says.
"After basketball games and practices the boys were at pains to hurry out of the locker room; being last out virtually guaranteed groping by `Father Gacy,' " the lawsuit alleges.
Adam Doe reported the abuse to Ross, not knowing that he too selected certain boys as his "personal favorites"--inviting them to his vacation home in Lake Geneva, Wis., where he served beer and hard liquor, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit alleges that in the early 1980s, Ross was transferred to a parish in Itasca but maintained contact with his favorites. During boys' weekend at the rectory there, the plaintiff alleges Ross fondled him and performed oral sex.
In a 2005 deposition, Imesch said Ross had admitted to him that he had abused a boy. Imesch said he felt no obligation to report the information to police.
In December 1982, Ross was reportedly transferred to California for psychological therapy. According to the lawsuit, he sent letters and packages to the plaintiff until his parents discovered them and asked Imesch to intervene.
The matter was never again discussed, but Ross was assigned to three more parishes in DuPage County after his treatment. In 1993, after the accuser confronted Imesch, Ross was moved to a diocese in Santa Rosa, Calif., to serve as a prison chaplain. He was suspended from ministry in 2002.
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