Victims Group: Archdiocese Should Release Files on Accused Priest
By Jennifer Delgado
October 3, 2013
|Cardinal Francis George (September 20, 2013)|
Members of an advocacy group for people abused by priests delivered a letter to Cardinal Francis George on Thursday, demanding he release details of the Roman Catholic Church's investigation into a southwest suburban priest accused of molesting boys in the 1980s.
The letter was given the same day the Tribune reported that the Burbank Police Department hired the priest — the Rev. Robert Stepek — as a counselor who sometimes works with children.
With the Archdiocese of Chicago's information, the residents of Burbank would likely object to Stepek being on the Police Department's payroll, said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The archdiocese also should prohibit Stepek from holding that job, she added.
"The Police Department should know better," Blaine said. "They're supposed to be the people protecting citizens from people like Father Stepek."
In May 2006, one man alleged to a priest that he and his brother had been sexually abused by Stepek in the early 1980s. Stepek was asked to temporarily step down as pastor at St. Albert the Great in Burbank
By November, the archdiocese removed Stepek from ministry after its independent review board "determined that there was reasonable cause to suspect that sexual abuse of minors occurred," according to an archdiocese statement at the time.
The Cook County state's attorney's office reviewed the case and did not file criminal charges.
In 2007, the Burbank Police Department hired Stepek as a community resource officer. In that role, he sometimes counsels parents and their children. The suburb's mayor and police chief, who are parishioners at St. Albert, have defended the decision.
Last month, the archdiocese announced that a special Vatican council did not find sufficient evidence that Stepek sexually abused minors. The Vatican council also said Stepek "engaged in behaviors inappropriate for a priest," but the archdiocese declined to elaborate.