Attorney Says Abuse Suit against Cleared Priest "Is Alive"
By Eric Peterson
August 22, 2014
The man accusing Catholic priest Joseph Wilk of sexual abuse will continue his lawsuit against the former Schaumburg pastor, despite the Archdiocese of Chicago recently reinstating the priest to good standing and removing him from a list of abusive clergy, his lawyer said Thursday.
"This case is alive," attorney Patrick F. Bradley said. "There is so much reasonable cause (to pursue the case), it stinks."
Bradley filed suit on behalf of his now 29-year-old client in May 2013, naming Wilk, former pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Schaumburg, as defendant. The case's next status hearing is Oct. 10, Bradley said.
The suit claims Wilk sexually abused Bradley's client once in 1995, when he was 10 years old, and again from his freshman year of high school until he was 19 years old.
Wilk was pastor of St. Matthew Church from 1994 until 2006.
Based on information it had at the time, an independent review board ruled in early February 2014 that Wilk's name should be added to a list of past and present archdiocese clergy with a substantiated allegation of abuse against them.
But Jan Slattery, director of the archdiocese's Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, said Wednesday that new information caused the board to reverse its decision and remove Wilk from that list on July 24. Slattery did not say what that new information was.
Bradley said he believes the new information was his client's arrest in early May on a charge of filing a false police report with Kankakee County sheriff's authorities.
According to a report in the Daily Journal newspaper, the accuser told authorities that the threats were a result of the allegations in his lawsuit. He pleaded not guilty to the charge Aug. 12 and is scheduled to return to court Sept. 29.
Bradley said the archdiocese is seeking to protect Wilk by putting the focus on "a troubled young man."
"This should never, ever have been reversed," Bradley said.
Susan Burritt, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Friday she can't comment on the case because matters brought to the review board are confidential.
The archdiocese also declined to make Wilk available for an interview Thursday, citing the pending lawsuit. On Wednesday, he told the Daily Herald he was thankful for the archdiocese's decision to reinstate him and described himself as "a good priest."
Slattery said Wednesday that while removing a priest from the abusive clergy list was an extremely rare occurrence, the new information that came to light in Wilk's case warranted it.
Bradley clarified that he is representing Wilk's accuser, and that the Patrick V. Bradley named in Wednesday's Daily Herald report is his son, who no longer practices in Illinois.