Man Shuns Anonymity in Accusing Ex-priest of Sex Abuse
By Manya Brachear Pashman
December 12, 2013
A 27-year-old Chicago man on Wednesday became the first person to identify himself in a sex abuse allegation against former Roman Catholic priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack.
Darryl McArthur, who like all of McCormack's accusers is African-American, filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court and said he wanted to combat "the culture of secrecy" involving sexual abuse.
"I respect the privacy of any individual who wants to put their name (as John Doe) … because it's a lot to deal with," McArthur said. "I feel as though me being a young African-American male I can raise awareness not only … of childhood sexual abuse but especially my culture. Where I come from there's a sworn secrecy of 'Don't tell.'"
The lawsuit alleges that the abuse started in 1994 at St. Ailbe Parish, in the Calumet Heights neighborhood, shortly after McCormack was ordained and began his first assignment.
McCormack, now 45, was removed from the priesthood after pleading guilty in 2007 to charges of criminal sexual abuse involving five victims.
Many others have come forward with similar accusations of abuse against McCormack, and the archdiocese has settled a number of lawsuits for millions of dollars. All accusers before McArthur have made their allegations under the name John Doe.
McCormack is in a state mental health facility while a Cook County judge decides whether to commit him indefinitely as a sexually violent person.
On Wednesday, the archdiocese and an attorney for McArthur agreed to try to resolve the case through an advisory panel of former Cook County judges and attorneys, who will evaluate the claim and recommend a settlement. More than 20 other claims involving the Chicago Archdiocese have been resolved through this process, the archdiocese said.
McArthur's attorney, Jeff Anderson, said he agreed to the panel process to expedite a resolution and to spare his client the trauma of court proceedings.
McArthur said he met McCormack in 1994 as a fourth-grader at St. Ailbe elementary school. The lawsuit alleges the first act of abuse took place when McArthur was trying on a basketball uniform. The abuse continued through 1996, during which time McArthur was taking baptism classes taught by McCormack, McArthur said.
McCormack also was McArthur's basketball and football coach.
"He was easy to talk to," McArthur said. "He brought a sense of making you feel comfortable as a child. He excelled in showing kids how to become good athletes."
In 2010, after college, McArthur sought help from Anderson and attorney Marc Pearlman, who immediately referred him to counseling. As a result of therapy, McArthur said, he decided to file a lawsuit disclosing his identity.
Anderson said he was awed by McArthur's ability to overcome racial and cultural taboos and come forward.
Anthony Stanford, author of "Homophobia in the Black Church: How Faith, Politics, and Fear Divide the Black Community" said the stigma surrounding homosexuality and sexual abuse compounds the tragedy.
"More sympathetic people with reason would understand that these were young boys when this happened to them and it wasn't their fault," Stanford said. "The reason it would not be discussed is part of the hidden culture that's existed for so many years."
McArthur said coming forward also adds to his hope of one day starting a family.
"I felt as though this has to be put at a closure in my life for me to reach that next level of my life," he said. "When I do start a family. I want to be able to share with my kids what has happened to me without breaking down or being afraid. … I want to be able to move on with my life."