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  Suit Targets Joliet Diocese Priests

By Ted Slowik
The Herald News
April 28, 2006

http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/heraldnews/top/4_1_JO28_PRIEST_S1.htm

CHICAGO — An Arizona man says in a lawsuit filed Thursday that two priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet sexually abused him beginning when he was 11 years old in 1975.

Once, 43-year-old Tim Greco says, he was in a shower with the Rev. Philip Dedera in the rectory at St. Pius X Church in Lombard when the Rev. Richard Bennett walked in and discovered the priest and boy naked together. Greco says Dedera repeatedly abused him for more than a year, and that Bennett molested him once.

Bennett is pastor of Holy Spirit Church at 111th Street and Book Road in Naperville. Dedera was removed from ministry by Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch in 2002 amid reports that he sexually abused other boys.

Greco says he reported the incidents to the diocese in 2004, and recalls a phone conversation he had with Imesch two years ago.

"He said, 'What do you want from me, some counseling?'" Greco said Thursday.

"He asked me if I had brought it upon myself," or somehow encouraged the priest to have sex with the prepubescent boy.

A statement released by Thomas Kerber, spokesman for the diocese, said the diocese notified the DuPage County state's attorney's office in 2004 after receiving an allegation of sexual abuse against Bennett that supposedly occurred sometime in 1974 or 1975.

"Through his attorney, the accuser was invited to present his allegation to the Joliet Diocesan Review Committee, or to provide additional information," the statement says. "The attorney did not respond to the invitation, and no further information from the accuser was provided."

Still, the review committee conducted an investigation and determined the allegation was neither credible nor substantiated.

"Since the time the review committee made its decision, there have been no new facts about the alleged abuse," the statement says. "Should any significant new facts come to light, the committee will reconsider their previous decision."

The statement went on to say: "The review committee will be convened shortly to consider the present situation. For the time being, Father Bennett will remain as pastor, and his activities will be limited and restricted."

Dedera, who also was named in the lawsuit, was removed from ministry in 2002 because of a credible allegation made against him, the statement says.

Greco said that as a result of the abuse, he battled alcoholism for many years, but that he has been sober since 1998.

"I lived my life in shame, in fear that I had done something wrong," he said. "It was a secret I hid inside all these years. The only way I could hide my pain was drinking."

Dedera was ordained in 1972 and served at St. Andrew the Apostle in Romeoville, 1973-75; St. Pius X in Lombard, 1976-78; Visitation in Elmhurst, 1979; St. Walter, Roselle, 1980-84; St. Mary, Downers Grove, 1984-85; St. Scholastica, Woodridge, 1985-86; St. Mary, Paxton, 1987-89; St. Patrick, Momence, 1990-95; and St. Patrick, Naperville, 1997-98. His last two assignments were also in Naperville, as a chaplain at Edward Hospital and St. Patrick's Residence, 1999-2002.

Bennett was ordained in 1972 and has served at St. Dennis, Lockport, 1973-75; St. Pius X, Lombard, 1977-79; St. Raphael, Naperville, 1980-87; and Sacred Heart, Joliet, 1988-98. He was assigned to Catholic Community Wheatland Church in 1999, which became Holy Spirit Church in 2001.

Greco is married and has two children. He filed suit in DuPage County Circuit Court and is represented by attorneys Marc Pearlman of Chicago and Jeff Anderson of Minneapolis.

This is believed to be the 13th pending lawsuit that accuses Imesch and the diocese of negligence in allowing priests to have unsupervised access to children who were allegedly sexually abused.

- Contact Ted Slowik at (815) 729-6053 or at tslowik@scn1.com.

 
 

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