By Patti Wenzel
The-Bee [Phillips WI]
March 14, 2007
In the article "Former Phillips priest named in federal lawsuit" from the Feb. 8 edition of THE-BEE, it was written that Phillip Aaron, an attorney for a man suing Fr. Terrance Fitzmaurice in the U.S. Federal Court of Northern Illinois, stated that there are possibly 15 additional sexual abuse victims of the priest in Wisconsin.
The statement came from a report filed by Lilia Chacon of WFLD-TV in Chicago, following a demonstration by Aaron and some of his clients in front of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago on Jan. 29. Aaron also told THE-BEE in a telephone interview after the demonstration that he "heard there were 15 complaints in Wisconsin."
Attorneys for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and St. Procopius Benedictine Abbey in Lisle, Ill., along with Fr. Gerald Hagen of St. Therese of Liseaux in Phillips, have called upon THE-BEE to retract the statement concerning the alleged 15 Wisconsin victims.
Aaron denied he made the statement to the Chicago reporter and says he told THE-BEE that Chacon told him of the Wisconsin complaints. Chacon, when contacted on March 7, stood by her report that Aaron was the source of the information.
Chacon's script from the Jan. 29 newscast states the following:
(Audio clip from Aaron) "Out of all the clients I've represented in 31 years of practice, this is the worst case I've ever seen."
(Chacon voiceover) "After his Chicago assignment ended in 1986, Fr. Fitzmaurice was transferred to two Wisconsin parishes. (St. Patrick's and Our Lady of the North) and during his tenure there, 15 boys came forward to accuse him of sexual abuse."
After contacting Aaron with Chacon's statements, he said he had spoken with a different reporter at the Chicago television station, and at this time did not desire a retraction. He characterized the statement as a possible misunderstanding of a conversation between him and the FOX news reporter.
"Let us leave this matter as it is now," Aaron wrote to THE-BEE on March 10. "We are in court and a retraction is not necessary. Our discovery process will reveal the truth as to whether there are other victims."
THE-BEE also contacted current and former law enforcement officials in Price County, along with church officials in Chicago, Lisle, Ill., and Superior concerning the allegations made against Fr. Fitzmaurice. Law enforcement officials did not recall any complaints being made against Fitzmaurice in Price County and could not find any records of complaints or investigations.
Church officials in both Illinois and Wisconsin maintain there have never been any complaints filed against Fitzmaurice.
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