Abuse Secrecy Continues, Critics Say
Illinois Victims' Group Claims Joliet Diocese Didn't List All Priests
By Dalia Hatuqa
The Times [Joliet IL]
April 12, 2006
A victim's support group was outraged Tuesday that the Joliet Diocese has released what the group claims is an incomplete list of priests accused of sexually abusing children.
"Some names (of abusive priests) were omitted and we find that troubling," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "It's disappointing that it takes so much pressure for church leaders to take this minimal step that might help protect children."
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet posted a list of the names of 22 priests involved in the scandal on its Web site on Monday but omitted the names of clergymen who were accused of abusing minors in other places.
"The list includes only those priests against whom a credible allegation was made while they were serving in the Joliet Diocese, not while they were serving elsewhere," said diocesan spokesman Tom Kerber.
The list excluded the name of the Rev. Gary Berthiaume, who served with Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch at a Michigan parish in the 1970s.
Kerber said those allegations occurred "while (Berthiaume) was serving in another diocese," but Blaine said his name was excluded because "he's a close friend of Bishop Imesch."
Berthiaume was convicted of sexual abuse in 1978 and spent six months in jail. Imesch allowed him back into the Joliet Diocese in 1987.
The list did not include the names of clergymen who were recently placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
One, the Rev. James Burnett, was suspended from the Joliet's Cathedral of St. Raymond in February, after a 34-year-old Phoenix man claimed the priest had molested him in 1978 at a Mokena parish.
A total of 783 credible allegations of sexual abuse by clerics against minors have been reported in the last year alone, according to data gathered by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The diocese's step comes at a time when another Joliet priest, convicted of sexually abusing three children at a Hinsdale church in 1984, was refused parole, even after completing his sentence.
The Rev. Fred Lenczycki was scheduled to be released Tuesday, but a DuPage County judge ordered a hearing to determine whether he is still capable of committing other sex crimes. Lenczycki will be transferred to a hospital in Joliet where his mental health will be evaluated.
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