Prosecutors drop charges against defrocked priest Daniel McCormack
By Steve Schmadeke
February 24, 2016
|Former priest Daniel McCormack|
The final pending criminal case against defrocked Roman Catholic priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack ended Wednesday, when prosecutors said they were forced to drop all charges.
McCormack, 47, who was not in court Wednesday, pleaded guilty in 2007 to molesting five boys and was sentenced to five years in prison. In 2009, prosecutors sought to have him declared a sexually violent offender and committed indefinitely to the Illinois Department of Human Services, which holds such offenders.
That case is pending.
The former St. Agatha's priest was charged in 2014 with aggravated sexual abuse involving a 10-year-old boy in 2005. The case had been set for trial, but on Wednesday prosecutors said they were dropping the charges because the alleged victim was no longer cooperating. The decision will not affect any of the other cases.
"The victim in this case went to police and made a complaint and after reviewing the facts and circumstances, the State's Attorney's Office brought charges in good faith," the state's attorney's office said in a statement. "However, as the case has progressed through the courts, the victim has chosen not to cooperate with the prosecution. As a result, the State's Attorney's Office was forced to dismiss the charges this morning."
McCormack's case led to a policy overhaul in the Archdiocese of Chicago and has cost millions of dollars in settlements. A Cook County judge ruled earlier this month that victims abused by the priest after 2000 can seek punitive damages against the archdiocese if their lawsuits go to trial.
Allegations against McCormack became public in 2006, four years after Cardinal Francis George urged America's bishops to remove any priest from ministry for a single act of sexual abuse. But the cardinal, when notified that McCormack had been taken into custody by Chicago police in August 2005 for allegedly abusing a boy, did not remove him from ministry until a second arrest in January 2006.
Later, outside auditors commissioned by the cardinal uncovered more than 30 missteps by the archdiocese in its handling of the case.
So far, all of the civil suits have been settled before making it to trial. The archdiocese says it has paid out $139 million in clerical sexual abuse claims, though it has not publicly tallied the amount spent to settle cases against McCormack. In one case against him that became public in 2014, the church paid over $3 million to settle. As of last fall, the archdiocese had received at least 30 substantiated claims against the former priest.