Principal Rejects Blame for Priest
Reprimanded for Letting McCormack Teach, Coach Kids
By Lisa Donovan
Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]
December 19, 2006
The Archdiocese of Chicago has reprimanded the principal of Our Lady of the Westside School for allowing her boss, the Rev. Daniel McCormack, to teach and coach at the elementary school even after sex abuse allegations came to light, NBC 5 reported Monday night.
An angry Barbara Westrick, still principal at the North Lawndale school, fired back on the 10 p.m. broadcast, saying the letter of reprimand is proof the archdiocese -- including Cardinal Francis George -- is using her as a scapegoat.
"For them to accuse me of not taking care of my kids, how dare they," she said, breaking down in tears. "They're the ones who put my kids at risk."
Westrick said she was never told about a recommendation to remove McCormack from ministry, made before his arrest this year, or about his alleged troubled past.
In an Oct. 6 letter signed by Nicholas M. Wolsonovich, the archdiocese's superintendent of schools, Westrick was told that even though she had been approached by a parent in September 2005 about abuse allegations involving McCormack, she "either assigned Father McCormack or did not question his teaching math and coaching boys' basketball."
The letter goes on: "These are matters which involve serious omissions in the prudent administration of a school in the protection of students."
During the TV interview, Westrick confirms that she talked to the mother of one boy about abuse allegations in September 2005 and that the parent had sought her out after alerting the archdiocese and police. Law enforcement didn't have enough to proceed with charges, Westrick said the parent told her.
Westrick did approach McCormack, who was her boss, and he denied the allegations. She now wishes she had alerted authorities -- something she said she did when a second boy came forward this year.
McCormack was arrested in January 2006 and charged with molesting three boys at St. Agatha's Parish.
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