Five Men Sue Diocese of Joliet over Alleged Sexual Abuse
By Steve Schmadeke
May 15, 2013
Five men who allege they were sexually abused by priests in the Diocese of Joliet in the 1970s and 1980s sued the diocese today in Will County circuit court.
The men, who say they repressed memories of the abuse until recent media reports that accompanied the release by the diocese of personnel files of priests with substantiated allegations against them, allege they were between 8 and 16 when it happened.
Their lawsuits allege the diocese allowed known or suspected pedophile priests to have access to young boys who were allegedly abused on church retreats and even in the back row of a school classroom. One boy was allegedly told to strip out of his clothes and wear a loincloth so the priest could practice giving funeral rites.
The boys attended St. Boniface Catholic Church in Monee, St. Charles Borremeo Seminary in Joliet, St. Dominic Catholic Church in Bolingbrook, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Bolingbrook and St. Mary Nativity School in Joliet.
All of the named priests – Myles White of St. Boniface, Michael Gibbney of St. Francis of Assisi, Frederick Lenczycki of St. Charles Borremeo Seminary and James Nowak of St. Dominic - were removed from ministry between 1992 and 2012, according to a release from the plaintiff's attorneys. At least one was convicted of sexual abuse and one is deceased.
Emery Stiglich, a former teacher at St. Mary Nativity School in Joliet who is named in the litigation, is also deceased, according to a spokesman for the plaintiffs.
“Lives have been horribly damaged,” Mark McKenna, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, said in a statement. “The scars from child sexual abuse and the secrecy surrounding it take years, even decades to heal properly. The process is extended in the many cases where victims, as a coping mechanism, repress memories of the abuse. That’s why laws have been passed which protect victims by allowing them to seek damages when their memories are ‘unlocked.’