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  Kankakee Priest Is Suspended

By Janita Poe
Chicago Tribune
July 31, 1992

When Rev. Myles White, a Catholic priest from Kankakee, learned that sheriff's deputies were on his trail after they viewed a videotape of him allegedy having sex with a teenage boy, authorities said he tried to destroy several faded Polaroids of other boys, some nude, taken on outings with the priest.

But he was too late.

"When they arrived, he was cutting up snapshots of various young men," said Marshall County, Ind., Deputy Prosecutor Curtis Palmer. "Some of the photos appeared to be at least 10 to 15 years old. They were confiscated along with some pornographic magazines and videos."

After seizing the video, police arrested White on Tuesday and charged him with two counts of child molestation.

On Thursday, White, the 51-year-old pastor of St. Martin of Tours Church in Kankakee, appeared in court in Plymouth, Ind., where a judge entered an innocent plea for him. Bond was set for $50,000.

Sister Judith Davies, chancellor of the Joliet Diocese, said in a written statement that she had been "shocked and saddened" by White's arrest and said he had been suspended. Rev. Joseph Butters of St. Joseph's Church in Bradley was named temporary administrator of the 650-family St. Martin parish.

White is the third priest removed from parishes in the Joliet Diocese in recent years due to allegations of sexual abuse. The charges against White are the latest in a series of incidents involving Chicago-area priests.

Palmer said he began investigating White after a friend purchased a video of a local parade at a Lions Club flea market in Culver, Ind., where White owns a residence.

The tape, which White apparently had donated to the event, was taken by Palmer's friend on a family trip. While viewing the coverage of the festival, they noticed a short gap and then saw 30 minutes of an earlier taping: White having sex with a boy, Palmer said.

The friend turned the tape over to Marshall County sheriff's deputies who, after identifying the man as White, visited him at the Kankakee rectory.

At the rectory, Palmer said, church officials recognized the boy as a Manteno youth who is now 17. He told investigators he was unaware that White had videotaped him, but after viewing the tape, he said: "Well, that certainly is me," Palmer said.

When the deputies returned to the rectory, they found White using paint thinner and scissors to destroy the pictures, Palmer said, but they recovered most of the one to two dozen photographs.

The photographs showed nude youths and some clothed boys on outings with the priest, officials said.

Authorities said they also found pornographic magazines in the Culver house and what appear to be homemade videos, which police have not viewed. Kankakee police discovered pornographic magazines and videos in White's bedroom at the rectory, authorities said.

Palmer said authorities plan to review the videos for possible sexual liaisons. In addition, he said, authorities are making a plea to any of White's parishioners to report any other involvement by White with youths.

"We were all shocked and surprised," said Betty Grant, secretary at the St. Martin rectory. She said there was "no indication of any kind" that White may have been involved in sexual relationships with boys.

White was ordained in 1968 and served as associate pastor at St. Isaac Jogues Church in Hinsdale, Sacred Heart Church in Lombard, and Notre Dame Church in Clarendon Hills before becoming pastor of St. Bonifact Catholic Church in Monee in 1978. In 1988, he joined St. Martin as pastor. White is a native of Chicago.

In addition to White, two other Joliet Diocese priests have been removed in the wake of sexual-abuse allegations.

Rev. Edward Stefanich, former pastor of St. Scholastica parish in Woodridge, agreed to resign from the priesthood in 1987 after pleading guilty to charges of criminal sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison and a year of probation, including psychological counseling.

Rev. Henry Slade, former pastor of St. Isidore's parish in Bloomingdale, is on an indefinite leave of absence after pleading guilty in 1990 to sexually abusing an 18-year-old male afflicted with cerebral palsy. Slade was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to undergo psychological counseling. He has since been charged with sexual abuse in a civil suit in the same incident.

Another Joliet diocesan priest, Rev. J. Michael Foley, was suspended as principal of St. Francis High School in Wheaton after a 17-year-old female student charged that he fondled her last May in a school hallway. Foley faces trial on charges of battery and disorderly conduct, which do not constitute a sex crime.

White's arrest occurs amid growing national concern that officials of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church have covered up the scandal of sexually-abusive priests.

In response to such suspicions, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin last month released a special commission's recommendations for reforming the sexual-abuse policy of the Chicago Archdiocese.

As a result of the commission's findings, the cardinal said, five priests involved in sexual-misconduct cases were removed from parishes out of concern that they posed a risk to children. He said eight other priests in similar cases, but deemed not to constitute a risk in present assignments, also would be removed.

 
 

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