Accused Cleric Sent to Argentina by Chicago-based Order
By Manya Brachear Pashman
August 1, 2013
A Chicago-based religious order on Thursday acknowledged sending a clergyman accused of inappropriate behavior to Argentina, the same day a victim's advocacy group criticized the order for allowing him to remain in the ministry.
Brother Richard Suttle now works under the supervision of a monitor in Buenos Aires and is "not involved in any work with children," the Rev. Rosendo Urrabazo, who oversees Claretian Missionaries in the United States, said Thursday. Urrabazo also confirmed that the order and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix investigated an accusation of inappropriate behavior against Suttle in 2008.
"A meeting was held with the victim to make amends to him," Urrabazo said in a statement. "Bro. Richard has been removed from any ministry with children and assigned internal work for the Order."
Urrabazo did not respond to questions about a June newsletter produced by the religious order's United Nations ministry that listed Suttle as part of its team. The ministry at the U.N. is a human rights project that, among its priorities, addresses youth unemployment and development.
The victims advocacy group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also demanded to know the whereabouts of other accused Claretian clergy, including one person accused of abusing minors at a Southeast Side parish a decade ago.
The Rev. Eusebio Pantoja and the Claretian Missionaries religious order, of which he was a member, were sued in 2003 regarding allegations that he committed acts of abuse in 1970 at his home and in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st St.
At the time of the lawsuit, Pantoja was assigned to a parish in Mexico, said Marc Pearlman, an attorney for the plaintiff, who was 14 at the time of the alleged abuse. The order did not respond to questions about where Pantoja now serves.
Pearlman said the order settled the suit along with another against the Rev. Thomas Paramo, who died in 2004. The order did not respond to questions about whether it investigated allegations against Paramo and Pantoja.
Barbara Blaine, president of SNAP, said the Chicago Archdiocese and religious orders should place accused priests in remote, secure facilities away from children and post the names of accused clergy so "parents and parishioners will know to keep children at a distance from him."
Unlike some dioceses that publish the names of credibly accused priests, religious orders in the U.S., composed of 17,000 men, have been less forthcoming about substantiated abuse allegations. Yet some orders are considering a more open policy.
After an unprecedented audit in June, the Detroit-based Capuchin Province of St. Joseph released a list of 23 current and former Capuchin friars removed for sexually abusing minors.