|Boys' Moms Rip Priest, Church
Sex Abuse Scandal | Say McCormack's Sentence Too Light, His Protectors Kept Jobs
By Susan Hogan/Albach
July 18, 2007
Chicago (IL) — One mother was in the courtroom the day the Rev. Daniel McCormack was sentenced for molesting her son. The other mother couldn't bear to come.
And for two weeks, neither felt ready to talk publicly. But Tuesday, each woman offered a glimpse into their nightmare.
Both have moved their children away from the West Side neighborhood where McCormack led St. Agatha Catholic Church, taught at Our Lady of the Westside elementary school and coached basketball.
They won't say where they live to protect their sons' privacy. The Sun-Times isn't identifying family members because the boys are not yet teenagers.
One boy was eight when the sexual abuse started, the other was 10. The older child was a student at the school, the younger child lived nearby.
The mom of the younger boy said she didn't go to court because it was too upsetting. She opted to stay at home with her son, who still struggles.
"I can't stand to let him out of my sight since this happened," she said, her head downcast. "I don't trust anyone with him."
The boy didn't attend the school, but did chores for the priest to earn money.
"I thought having him work with the priest would keep him on the right road," she said. Now, she worries about the day McCormack is released from prison.
"I don't want my son to ever run into him again," she said.
The moms, who are suing the Archdiocese of Chicago, sat in opposite rooms in the downtown offices of their civil attorneys, Marc Pearlman and Jeff Anderson.
McCormack pleaded guilty on July 2 to molesting five boys, and was sentenced to five years in prison. Legal authorities say he may serve half the time.
Both moms said the sentence was too light. And that McCormack had been "too arrogant" to apologize for his crimes.
The mom of the older boy said she was in court for nearly every McCormack hearing. "It was my way of facing this," she said.
Will always carry pain
She said that her son was doing better. His grades shot up after McCormack's arrest. And he's enjoying basketball again.
But she hurled criticism at the archdiocese for allowing McCormack to remain in ministry, despite complaints.
"The people who kept his secrets, kept their jobs," she said.
Because of the case, the archdiocese said it had instituted additional measures to protect children.
After the verdict was announced, the cardinal said in a statement that the sexual abuse of children was a sin and a crime. The archdiocese told the Sun-Times this week that the cardinal would not comment further.
Meanwhile, the moms said the trail of devastation left by McCormack will always be with them.
For one, the inner torment for one mom continues. For the other, the priest's guilty plea has brought a grain of closure.
"I tell my children to stay in school and stay strong so that one day they can become a lawyer, judge or prosecutor and go after people like McCormack," the mom said.
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