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  Priest Accuser's Mother Blames Cardinal for Abuse

By Manya A. Brachear mbrachear@tribune.com
Chicago Tribune
May 12, 2006

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/chi-0605120261
may12,1,2066036.story?coll=chi-newslocalchicago-hed

The Willowbrook mother whose child accused Rev. Daniel McCormack last August of sexually abusing him at a West Side Roman Catholic school said Thursday that Cardinal Francis George had endangered other children by not believing her son.

Cook County prosecutors have since charged the priest with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of five boys, including two who allegedly were abused after the mother alerted the archdiocese of Chicago that there might be a problem.

At a news conference Thursday, the woman sat beside a North Lawndale mother who says McCormack abused her son while the priest's contact with minors was supposed to be monitored by a peer at St. Agatha parish, where McCormack was pastor.

Both women, neither of whom wanted to be identified, filed a motion Thursday seeking punitive damages on top of civil lawsuits filed earlier this year.

"The action for punitive damages is designed to punish the archdiocese and deter them from doing what they've done in the past," said Jeff Anderson, a prominent victims' attorney from St. Paul whom the Willowbrook mother recently retained.

Auditors hired by the archdiocese revealed in March that the church had received misconduct allegations involving McCormack in 1992 when he was a seminarian, again in 1999 and again in 2003.

"He doesn't have any faith in the children and the parents," the Willowbrook mother said of the cardinal. "He just has faith in his system. It's a bad system."

Jim Dwyer, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said he had not seen the amended suits but disagreed with the motion.

"We don't think there's any grounds for punitive damages," he said.

The Willowbrook mother said the first allegation surfaced when her 10-year-old son objected to returning from Florida to Chicago, saying McCormack had abused him in 2003.

After the accusations became public, the other boy's mother asked her 10-year-old son whether the priest had ever abused him when he was doing chores at St. Agatha. The boy said yes.

 
 

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