Board Cites Concerns About Priest

By Chuck Salvatore
Southwest News-Herald [Illinois]
November 8, 2006

The Review Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago has determined there is reasonable cause to suspect that the Rev. Robert Stepek has committed sexual abuse of minors.

According to a letter read during all Masses this past weekend at St. Albert the Great Church, 5535 W. State Road, in Burbank, Stepek's case will now be sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican for review and determination.

Stepek was the pastor at St. Albert Parish.

Allegedly, two brothers came forward and claimed they were sexually abused by Stepek more than 20 years ago while Stepek worked at St. Symphorosa Church on Chicago's Southwest Side during the 1980s.

"Stepek is acting like a predator who has been outed. He made his case in front of the review board and they didn't find it credible with the victim statements," said Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

The letter read by church officials at all weekend Masses stated, "Until the canonical process has been completed, Fr. Stepek will reside and be supervised in a private setting away from the parish."

Stepek agreed to a voluntary leave of absence from the parish when the allegations came forward in May of this year.

Cardinal George accepted the Review Board's findings and their recommendation that Stepek not engage in any form of ministry and that appropriate restrictions be imposed in accordance with Archdiocesan policies and procedures.

"I understand why the parishioners are upset and I understand why Stepek is upset, but this is good for the children of St. Albert. The parish is safer with his removal," said Blaine.

SNAP is a support group for those who have been sexually assaulted by priests. The group is in touch with people who claim to have been victims.

A representative from St. Albert the Great was not available for comment, and Archdiocese members were in a meeting Monday afternoon about this situation at the time of press deadline and were not available for comment.

It is not known what will happen about the leadership at St. Albert Church.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.