Priest, Diocese Sued over Sex Incident

By Charles Mount
Chicago Tribune
December 4, 1991

A 20-year-old victim of cerebral palsy filed suit Tuesday in Cook County seeking damages from a Roman Catholic priest, a bishop and the Joliet diocese because the priest sexually abused the man nearly two years ago.

The Circuit Court suit, filed under the pseudonym "John Doe," seeks an unspecified amount of damages from Rev. Henry Slade, who is now on an indefinite leave of absence; Bishop Joseph L. Imesch, leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet; and the diocese itself.

Joseph Klest, attorney for the plaintiff, charged in the suit that Slade, who is now apparently working in a sales position in Cook County, committed the act on Jan. 3, 1990, which later resulted in the priest pleading guilty to criminal sexual abuse, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced in Du Page County Circuit Court to one year of probation, fined $250 and ordered to undergo psychological counseling.

The act occurred in Slade's living quarters at St. Isidore's Catholic Church in Bloomingdale after the then-18-year-old came to the priest for counseling. Klest said the man, whose parents were separated, had been receiving counseling from Slade for about a year at the time of the incident.

Klest charged that Slade, 51, who had been pastor of the 3,500-family parish since 1982, had sexual contact with at least four youths while a priest and that at least one of the priest's prior victims had reported the incident to another priest in the diocese.

Slade is accused of psychological malpractice and breach of trust. The suit charges that Bishop Imesch and the diocese should have known about the priest's "dangerous and exploitive propensities as a child sexual abuser."

The bishop and diocese also are accused of inadequately screening Slade and failing to report the acts of the priest, as well as other priests, to either church authorities or law enforcement officials.

Imesch said that Slade is on leave from the priesthood at his own request, and that he and another priest in the diocese who has been accused of sexual abuse "have been damaged enough."

Imesch said the two incidents are the only ones in the past five years in the diocese, which has an intervention program staffed by priests, attorneys and a layman to help victims of sexual abuse and their families, as well as the accused.


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