Burbank Police Department Hired Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse
By Jennifer Delgado
October 2, 2013
|Burbank Mayor Harry Klein, shown, said he approved of hiring the Rev. Robert Stepek in 2007 as a police resource officer because he "trusted in the goodness" of Stepek. The priest was asked by the Chicago Archdiocese in 2006 to step down from his Burbank parish after the archdiocese found reason to believe two brothers who had accused Stepek of sexually abusing them in the early 1980s. (Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune / September 24, 2013)|
Seven years ago, the Archdiocese of Chicago removed the popular pastor of a southwest suburban church after he was accused of molesting two brothers.
But Burbank Mayor Harry Klein thought the Rev. Robert Stepek was innocent. So, in 2007, he recommended the priest for a different position of authority: police department counselor, helping victims who sometimes included children. Stepek got the job.
The hiring came at a time of increasing public furor over the church’s handling of molestation allegations and divided many in Burbank.
Klein, like some other parishioners at St. Albert the Great, put his trust in Stepek and defended the decision to hire the priest.
“We’re not afraid of letting him work with the youth. We’re not afraid of letting him work with the seniors,” the mayor said. “We’re not afraid of letting him work with anyone.”