Joliet Diocese Names 22 Accused Priests
Sex Abuse Scandal: Critics Question the List's Completeness
By Ted Slowik
The Herald News
April 11, 2006
JOLIET — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet has posted on its Web site a list of 22 priests accused of sexually abusing minors.
Two of the clerics on the list are linked to sexual abuse for the first time, though one of the priests has died and the other is in his 90s.
The list lacks other names of individuals accused of abuse. The diocese qualified its list by saying it contains the names of "diocesan priests against whom a credible/substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor had been made while they were serving in the Diocese of Joliet."
Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch said in a letter to parishioners last month that the diocese would post the names on its Web site. The list can be found at www.dioceseofjoliet.org/docs /ListofPriests.pdf.
"The diocese has taken this step in the hope of further facilitating healing and closure for those who have been affected by the tragedy of sexual abuse of a minor," diocesan spokesman Tom Kerber said in a statement. "We also hope that posting the names might encourage those who think they may have been abused to come forward."
Critics said the list was incomplete.
"It's hard to believe that's a sincere statement," said David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "If the diocese genuinely wants people to come forward, the bishop should go to parishes, look people in the eye and beg them to report what they know."
A class-action lawsuit filed against the diocese last month sought to force the diocese to disclose priests who sexually abused children. The lawsuit listed 25 names.
"The timing is more than coincidental," Clohessy said.
Twenty of the 22 names announced by the diocese were previously reported. Six of the men were criminally convicted, 11 have been named in civil lawsuits, and others were announced when they were removed from ministry in 2002.
The two unfamiliar names are the Rev. Salvatore Formusa and the late Rev. James Frederick.
Formusa was ordained in 1935, and his assignments included St. Anthony and St. Paul the Apostle in Joliet. The parish bulletin for St. Paul's recently reported that Formusa was hurt by a fall and recovering at St. Benedict Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Niles.
Imesch was scheduled to honor Formusa's 71 years in the priesthood during a Holy Week service at the Cathedral of St. Raymond on Monday night. He also was to commend the 50 years in the priesthood of retired Bishop Daniel Ryan, who removed himself from public ministry in 2002 after a lawsuit claimed that Ryan had sex with a 15-year-old boy.
Neither cleric was scheduled to attend Monday night's Chrism Mass, when holy oils are blessed.
Frederick died in 1988 at age 54. An obituary said he taught at Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago from 1961 to 1965, and that he served at St. Liborius in Steger, Notre Dame in Clarendon Hills, St. Patrick in Wilton Center, St. Anthony in Frankfort and St. Joseph in Manhattan.
At the time of his death, Frederick was director of the diocese's finances and cemeteries.
The list does not include the name of the Rev. Gary Berthiaume, who served with Imesch at a parish in Michigan and was criminally convicted of sexual abuse in the 1970s. He transferred from the Archdiocese of Detroit to the Diocese of Cleveland, where he was accused in a lawsuit of abusing boys during the 1980s.
Imesch accepted Berthiaume into the Joliet Diocese in 1987 and allowed him to serve as a hospital chaplain until 2002.
The diocese's list says that two of the priests are on administrative leave and that their cases are pending. Both clerics — the Rev. Arno Dennerlein and the Rev. Carroll Howlin — face multiple accusations of sexually abusing minors.
The list does not include clerics who were recently placed on administrative leave following single claims of misconduct and who have denied the accusations.
One is the Rev. James Burnett, who was removed in February as pastor of the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet. The other is the Rev. William Virtue, who was removed from ministry by the Diocese of Peoria in February following a claim that he sexually abused a minor while serving in the Diocese of Joliet about 25 years ago.
The diocese's list does not include the names of religious order priests or nonreligious personnel accused of sexual abuse with minors.
• Contact Ted Slowik at (815) 729-6053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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