Hospital System Tells Victims Group Accused Former Priest Has Retired
By Manya A. Brachear
June 12, 2013
Advocate Health Care has disclosed that a former Roman Catholic priest removed from ministry 20 years ago for a substantiated allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor retired last month.
Russell Romano of Bolingbrook, who was a priest in the Chicago Archdiocese from 1973 to 1991, has worked for Advocate for 12 years, hospital officials said. According to the system's website, he has worked for a publicly funded treatment program for Illinois health care professionals.
In May, victims advocates expressed concern that Romano worked as a counselor at an Advocate health clinic in Des Plaines.
This week, leaders of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests received a letter addressing those concerns. In the letter to Barbara Blaine and David Clohessy, Kevin Brady, senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Advocate Health Care, said the organization "completed a full investigation" and found that "Mr. Romano has had no contact with children."
"Furthermore, he doesn't (keep an) office in a clinical environment, and the majority of his work is performed telephonically," Brady wrote.
"Given the nature of Mr. Romano's work with our organization, we are confident that no one has been placed at risk," Brady wrote.
Stephanie Johnson, a spokeswoman for Advocate, said the organization conducts a "thorough, comprehensive background check," including criminal background checks, job reference checks, federal prison and Illinois Department of Corrections inmate searches as well as sex registrant searches.
The Chicago Archdiocese said it refers prospective employers to the church's website, where the names of priests removed for credible allegations have been listed publicly since 2006. The appearance of Romano's name on the list that year was the first time his 1991 removal became public. It's unclear if Romano shared his history as a priest on his resume when he was hired in 2001. It's also unclear if Advocate called the archdiocese.
Romano has practiced as a licensed clinical counselor in Illinois since 1995. When asked if Romano's license was at risk, Sue Hofer, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, said she could not talk about individuals. Instead she spoke in general terms.
"When we've learned of a possible violation of the practice act, we open an investigation," she said.
Romano's license is set to expire in 2015. Romano did not return calls for comment.