Chicago Archdiocese Can Be Punished for Its Part in Mccormack Abuse Case
By Manya Brachear Pashman
February 10, 2016
A decade after former Roman Catholic priest Daniel McCormack was arrested for molesting children at his West Side church, a Cook County judge has ruled that victims abused by McCormack after September 2000 can seek punitive damages against the Chicago Archdiocese if their lawsuits go to trial.
In a six-page ruling issued Tuesday, Cook County Circuit Judge Clare McWilliams wrote that it was reasonably likely that victims' lawyers could prove to a jury that by ordaining McCormack and assigning him to parishes, the archdiocese acted with "utter disregard" and therefore deserves to be punished.
While the ruling only applies to this one case, scheduled for trial July 22, it's likely to guide future civil cases involving McCormack. Furthermore, if cases make it to the trial stage and juries impose punitive damages, it could cost the church millions on top of what it has already paid out to compensate victims of the convicted sex offender.
McCormack pleaded guilty in 2007 to molesting five boys and was sentenced to five years in prison. His case led to an overhaul of Chicago church policy and has cost the archdiocese millions of dollars in settlements, which insurance no longer covers. Every case has been settled before making it to trial.