Fourteen Clergy Child Sex Abuse Claims Settle

By Jeff Anderson
Earthtimes [Chicago IL]
May 29, 2007,112654.shtml

Chicago, May 29 /PRNewswire/ -- WHAT At a news conference, a Minnesota attorney will announce -- the resolution of 14 civil child molestation lawsuits against 12 current and former Chicago area Catholic priests for $6.65 million dollars, and -- a new pro bono effort he's launching to help warn the public about predatory Chicago priests by helping victims find and sue their perpetrators as individuals WHEN Tuesday, May 29, 11:30 a.m. WHERE

Allerton Crowne Plaza Hotel, 701 N. Michigan Ave. (4th Floor, Olmsted Room) in Chicago


Two clergy molestation victims who have not spoken publicly before and are involved in these settlements, along with their attorneys


Some of the priests' assignments records, photos and current home addresses (as best can be determined) will be provided. Five of them live in the area (Mt. Prospect, Lake Villa, Palatine, and the city of Chicago). Most of the priests had been publicly accused before, but two had faced no legal action until sued by the victims Anderson represents: Fr. Leonard Kmak (ordained 1959) and Fr. Peter McNamara (ordained 1970).

The other clerics (and their ordination dates) are Fr. Robert D. Craig (1974), Fr. Joseph P. Kissane (1969), Fr. William J. O'Brien (1973), Fr. Ken Ruge (1963), Fr. Robert Charles Becker (1965), Fr. Robert E. Mayer (1964), Fr. Walter E. Huppenbauer (1957), Fr. Joseph L. Fitzharris (1962), Fr. Vincent E. McCaffrey (1978), and Fr. Norbert J. Maday (1964).

Anderson is also announcing an unprecedented new, pro bono effort in which he and his staff will provide free investigative and legal services to any of his past, present, and future clergy sex abuse victim clients who a) were hurt by Chicago archdiocesan clerics and who b) want to track down and sue their perpetrators as individuals (rather than suing church officials). Anderson's goal is to help warn vulnerable families about dangerous predators through litigation, even though the chances of recovering any substantial monetary damages from individual priests are extremely remote.

The settlements were reached between March 2006 and March 2007. Most of the abuse occurred between the mid-1970s and 1980s. The first abuse was in 1962 (by Kmak) and the latest in 1990 (by Craig). One predator (O'Brien) was kept in active ministry until 2005.

Four of the predators were criminally convicted: McCaffrey (pled guilty in 2002), Maday (convicted in 1992), Mayer (convicted in 1992) and Fitzharris (convicted in 1987). Two are still incarcerated: McCaffrey (in Massachusetts) and Maday (in Wisconsin). Three of the predators are deceased (Becker, Ruge and Kmak) and one's whereabouts are unknown (McNamara).

The two largest settlements (each more than $1 million) went to a man abused as a child by McCaffrey and a man who was abused as a child by Ruge and Becker. (Court proceedings proved that archdiocesan officials knew of McCaffrey's propensity to molest boys even before he was ordained. Under oath, he testified to "hundreds and hundreds" of sex crimes against roughly 40 kids.)

In January 2006, Anderson filed an unusual class action settlement against the Archdiocese to compel church officials to disclose the names of all admitted, proven and credibly accused child molesting Chicago archdiocesan clerics. That suit (in Cook County court) remains unresolved along with several other civil child molestation lawsuits against Chicago predator priests, living and dead.

Jeff Anderson & Associates


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