Group Asks Rockford Catholic Diocese to Seek Victims after Child Sex Abuse Suit Filed
By Georgette Braun
Rockford Register Star
September 8, 2015
Posted Sep. 8, 2015 at 11:19 AM
Updated at 5:00 PM
ROCKFORD — A man who grew up in Aurora claims in a lawsuit filed in Winnebago County Court today that the Rev. John C. Holdren sexually assaulted him in 1972 and 1973.
The 49-year-old man, who lives in Maryland, is identified in court documents as John Doe JP, said his attorney Tim Frieberg of Rockford. The suit alleges that Holdren made unwanted sexual advances and fondled the victim when Holdren was at St. Rita's of Cascia parish in Aurora.
The suit against Holdren, St. Rita and the Diocese of Rockford seeks damages of more than $50,000.
The suit says the church "knew or should have known of the dangers presented by Fr. Holdren but (failed) to adopt precautionary procedures" and "facilitated and enabled" the priest's crimes.
A news release from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, also known as SNAP, said Holdren had not been publicly accused previously of abuse.
Penny Wiegert, director of communications for the Diocese of Rockford, said the diocese had no comment and that it had not received any information on such a lawsuit. She confirmed that Holdren is not active in the church now and that he resigned in the mid-1990s.
An Aug. 17, 1994, Chicago Tribune story said Holdren resigned from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Johnsburg three weeks after he was injured during a home invasion in Aurora. He told police then that a man demanded money and beat him unconscious when he said he had none. He was found by a friend the next morning and treated for head and facial injuries at Copley Memorial Hospital. His 1991 Olds Cutlass was taken and later recovered.
The SNAP group held a news conference this morning outside the diocese's headquarters on Colman Center Drive urging anyone who "saw, suspected or suffered" the accused priest's crimes to call police. It also is calling on local Catholic officials to use parish bulletins, the church website and pulpit announcements to seek "victims, witnesses and whistle-blowers." Wiegert would not comment on whether the diocese might consider the request.
In May 2014, the Vatican said it had defrocked 848 priests who raped or molested children and sanctioned an additional 2,572 with lesser penalties.
Georgette Braun: 815-987-1331; email@example.com