Joliet Diocese Is Sued over Catholic Priest Accused of Sexually Assaulting a Man Who Has a Disability at Residential Center in Kankakee
By Madeline Buckley
October 31, 2019
The Diocese of Joliet is facing a lawsuit in connection to a priest who is accused of sexually assaulting a man who has a disability while visiting a Kankakee development center to minister to residents there.
Richard Jacklin, 67, was criminally charged in 2017 after a nurse reported walking in on Jacklin performing a sex act on a 39-year-old man who was living at the Shapiro Developmental Center, prosecutors said. The center provides housing and care for people with intellectual disabilities. The man is paralyzed and has an intellectual disability.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, accuses the diocese of failing to properly investigate Jacklin and protect people with disabilities from the priest. Diocese priests visited Shapiro to provide religious counseling and other services to residents, according to the suit.
The suit was filed by attorneys for the Illinois Office of State Guardian on behalf of the man, who is a ward of the state. Named as defendants are the diocese, Jacklin and Bishop Daniel Conlon. Alex Rechenmacher, a spokesman for the diocese, said he cannot comment on the lawsuit because the diocese hasn’t yet been served.
Jacklin no longer has the ability to minister, Rechenmacher said.
The plaintiffs are asking a court to award more than $50,000 and court costs.
“This is yet another tragic example of a priest using his position of power and trust to hurt a vulnerable victim he was supposed to be trying to help,” attorney Timothy J. Cavanagh said in a statement.
Jacklin’s charges of criminal sexual assault by force and sexual misconduct on a person with a disability remain pending, according to Kankakee County court records.
As a result of the alleged abuse, the man, now around 41, suffers from trauma and has difficulty trusting adult men, according to the lawsuit.
“The diocese knew or should have been aware of Richard Jacklin’s propensity to sexually abuse those who he was ministering,” the suit said.
The Diocese of Joliet has already paid out at least $4.14 million connected to sexual misconduct claims. In April 2015, the diocese settled with 14 men who said they were abused as children by priests assigned to their suburban parishes.
Jacklin was ordained in 1984 and was assigned in 2005 to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Kankakee County, where he served until his arrest, according to Tribune archives.
He was one of two retired priests accused of sexual misconduct who attracted controversy because they were living in a Naperville retirement facility adjacent to a junior high school in 2018, according to the Naperville Sun.
Jacklin and James Nowak, who served as pastor at Saints Peter and Paul in Naperville from June 2002 to June 2007, lived at St. John Vianney Villa, just across a fence from Kennedy Junior High School in Lisle, until the Naperville School District 203 and the Naperville and Lisle police departments urged the diocese to move them.
The diocese did not disclose where the priests were moved, only saying they were not living near a school.