Former Priest Named in Abuse Settlement
Chicago Archdiocese and Benedictine Monks Avoid Court with Payment
By Patti Wenzel
The-Bee [Phillips WI]
December 7, 2006
A priest who formerly served the Catholic community in Phillips has been accused of molesting at least 15 teenaged boys in the early 1970s when he ran a youth jobs program in partnership with the city of Chicago.
Fr. Terence Fitzmaurice, who served St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Phillips from 1986-1991 and Our Lady of the North Catholic Church from 1991-1999, was named by the men in a complaint to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Order of St. Benedict in Lisle, Ill.
Fitzmaurice retired from active ministry in 1999 and returned to the St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle.
A spokesperson for Bishop Raphael Fliss of the Superior Diocese (which the Phillips congregations are a part of) said all inquiries about Fitzmaurice were to be directed to the Benedictine Order.
"He also wants the public to know that to his knowledge, there have been no accusations of sexual misconduct against Fr. Fitzmaurice while he was serving in the Superior Diocese."
No criminal charges have been filed against Fitzmaurice, but the Chicago Archdiocese and Benedictine Order have agreed to pay six-figure settlements each to three men who have accused the priest.
Phillip Aaron, a Seattle attorney representing the 15 alleged victims, said negotiations with the church and religious order are ongoing with the remaining men.
Aaron said he was not considering filing lawsuits against the city of Chicago, archdiocese or order, instead hoping the religious institutions will offer to help and get his clients treatment.
However, he doesn't rule out potential litigation if the church or order doesn't follow through with their promises of assistance to his clients.
Aaron said the three men requested the settlement amounts be kept confidential for their protection.
Fitzmaurice was an associate pastor at St. Procopius Parish in Pilsen, Ill., from 1967-1986. In the early 1970s he supervised up to 400 teenaged boys annually as part of Mayor Richard Daley's Summer Youth Employment Program.
In a 1976 document from the Chicago Office of Manpower, Fitzmaurice is quoted as saying the program's goal "was to instill pride in a child and give him some training skills, which will help him make a living for himself."
It was unclear whether the city of Chicago paid Fitzmaurice for his work in the program.
Aaron said he was able to get around the Archdiocese and the order's confidentiality measures by accessing city records concerning Fitzmaurice's actions.
In addition to the 15 men Aaron is representing, he is aware of up to 75 other men who might have had contact with Fitzmaurice. Those other men are not ready to go forward with formal complaints against the retired cleric, Aaron said. .
Abbot Dismas Kalcic, head of the St. Procopius Abbey, said in a telephone interview Dec. 1 that Fitzmaurice "completely denies" the allegations. He added that the 79-year-old priest is "incapacitated and not living in the Abbey."
Kalcic said the order's agreement to settle with the three men was not an admission of guilt.
"A settlement is usually made because it is much less expensive than litigation and with the specific stipulation that there is no admission of guilt," Kalcic said.
He also provided an official statement prepared by the order's attorney, Matthew P. Walsh, II.
"The abuse allegedly occurred over 30 years ago, and only recently did Michael Calvin and his contemporaries come forward. The priest in question, who is nearing 80 and long since retired, denies the claims. The Benedictine Monastery is helping (Mr.) Calvin with the recovery process," Walsh wrote. "The Benedictines take all allegations of abuse seriously and encourage anyone who feels they have been sexually abused to come forward."
The victim Walsh referred to, Michael Calvin, 47, spoke publicly about his encounters with Fitzmaurice.
Calvin said he met Fitzmaurice when he was 13 after he and two friends heard the priest was offering jobs to area youth.
He visited St. Procopius Parish and was hired in 1971 to paint city property and remove graffiti.
Over the next three years, Calvin alleges Fitzmaurice would take him and his friends to a building next to the church, which the priest allegedly referred to as "the clubhouse."
It was in the "clubhouse" that Fitzmaurice allegedly sexually abused the boys.
Calvin said he never reported the abuse because Fitzmaurice told him to keep the encounters secret and provided monetary help to Calvin's family.
Aaron describes Fitzmaurice as a "notorious pedophile" whom the church and order transferred to Phillips after knowing about his actions.
"It is important that this story gets out," Aaron said. "Pedophiles don't stop. There have to be others out there."
Calls to the Chicago Archdiocese were not returned.
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