Abuse Allegations 'Not Credible'

By Duaa Eldeib
Daily Southtown [Joliet IL]
March 30, 2007,301NWS9.article

In a move that has an attorney labeling the Diocese of Joliet as possibly "one of the most dangerous diocese in the country," officials found that allegations of child sexual abuse against an Illinois priest are "not credible."

Daniel Shanahan alleges in his lawsuit that he was molested repeatedly by the Rev. James Burnett almost 30 years ago. He went public last year with his claim of sexual abuse that allegedly began in 1978 — when he was 8 years old — and continued through 1982.

"The review committee evaluated the information, and in their opinion, there wasn't enough evidence to find this credible," said Doug Delaney, executive assistant to Joliet's Bishop James Peter Sartain.

According to the Diocese of Joliet, some of the alleged incidents occurred while Shanahan was a parishioner and student at St. Mary Parish in Mokena.

Shanahan's attorney, Jeff Anderson, calls the response "unfortunate, dangerous and typical."

Burnett was placed on administrative leave from Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet on Feb. 7, 2006, and remains out of ministry.

"This is another incident when they choose the priest over the victim, which perhaps makes the Diocese of Joliet one of the most dangerous diocese in the country for that reason," Anderson said.

"This just seems to be history repeating itself," Anderson said.

Delaney vehemently disagrees.

"I don't see how anyone can say that because the priest is out of ministry," Delaney said.

Shanahan's civil lawsuit is pending in DuPage County.

"It's another check, another way to give this person a chance to tell his story in a court environment," Delaney said.

The Joliet diocese also announced Thursday that the review committee members have "not been able to resolve the credibility" of an allegation in 1983 of a single act of sexual abuse in the case of a John Doe who also was a parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Mokena.

Shanahan's brother Tim also is suing the Joliet diocese, claiming he was raped and abused by the Rev. William Virtue.

"It's tough times," Delaney said.

Duaa Eldeib may be reached at or (708) 633-5960.


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