Chicago Archdiocese pays $3.15 million to settle priest sex abuse suit
By Manya Brachear Pashman
April 12, 2017
|Daniel McCormack arrives at court in 2007 to plead guilty to the sexual abuse of five boys.|
Photo by Michael Tercha
The Archdiocese of Chicago will pay $3.15 million to settle lawsuits brought by three men who allege they were sexually abused by a notorious former pastor of a West Side Catholic church more than a decade ago, the plaintiffs' attorney said Wednesday.
The accusers, all identified in court papers as John Doe, said former priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack sexually abused them more than once during their participation in an after-school program called S.A.F.E. at Our Lady of the Westside Catholic School.
The settlements were reached March 17, according to Lyndsay Markley, an attorney for the three plaintiffs.
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said she could not discuss the case.
"The Archdiocese does not comment on the details of settlements out of respect for the privacy of those involved," said spokeswoman Colleen Tunney-Ryan.
The lawsuits filed in Cook County Circuit Court in 2015 allege that the archdiocese and the late Cardinal Francis George had evidence that McCormack was unfit to work with children even before he was ordained in 1994, yet still allowed him to serve as a teacher, basketball coach and priest.
Allegations against McCormack became public in 2006, four years after George urged Catholic 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 at St. Agatha Catholic Church, where he served as pastor until a second arrest in January 2006.
He pleaded guilty in 2007 to fondling five boys ages 8 to 12 at the church and was permanently removed from the priesthood.
When McCormack came up for parole in 2010, the Cook County state's attorney and the Illinois attorney general petitioned the court to have him committed under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act. As those proceedings continue, McCormack remains in a state mental health facility.
A Cook County judge ruled last year that victims abused by McCormack after September 2000 can seek punitive damages against the archdiocese if their lawsuits go to trial. None has.
But McCormack alone already has cost the archdiocese millions of dollars in settlements, and there are additional cases pending. Though the archdiocese has maintained a pledge by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin that no money from the collection plate would be used to cover sex abuse settlements, insurance no longer covers any claims involving McCormack, and the scandal has had an impact on the long-term financial stability of the church. So far, the sale of unused real estate has covered the costs.
Last week, a luxury condominium and apartment developer announced plans to buy a huge Near North Side parking lot from the archdiocese for $115 million.