Board Ousts Priest after Abuse Charges Found Credible
He's Been on Leave from Burbank Parish since May
By Monifa Thomas
November 5, 2006
he Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced Saturday that a southwest suburban pastor has been removed from ministry after an independent review board found that accusations of sexual abuse against him are credible.
The Rev. Robert Stepek has been on leave from St. Albert the Great Parish in Burbank since May after allegations surfaced that Stepek sexually abused at least two minors more than 20 years ago.
Stepek was asked to step down while the independent Review Board of the Archdiocese conducted an investigation into the claims. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state's attorney's office were also informed of the alleged abuse, which is said to have taken place in the 1980s.
On Saturday, a letter from the archdiocese was read to parishioners at St. Albert during evening mass, stating that Stepek was removed from ministry following the completion of the review board's investigation, archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Burritt said.
Stepek moved from parish
"The Board determined that there is reasonable cause to suspect that sexual abuse of minors occurred," said the letter, obtained by the Sun-Times. "Until the canonical process has been completed, Fr. Stepek will reside and be supervised in a private setting away from the parish."
The letter will be read again at four masses today, Burritt said.
The state's attorney's office could not be reached for comment Saturday on possible criminal charges against Stepek. Stepek could also not be reached.
A victim's advocate group praised the review board's findings and urged other victims to come forward.
"If it weren't for those courageous victims that did come forward, children would still be at risk," said Barbara Blaine, founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
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