Ex-Pastor Accused in Lincoln / Diocese Denies Altar Boys Were Molested

By Joe Hosey
State Journal-Register [Springfield, IL]
December 10, 1997

A national legal team, associated in part with an ultraconservative Catholic group, has accused Monsignor Norman Goodman, former pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Lincoln, of molesting at least four altar boys.

A spokeswoman for the Peoria Catholic Diocese said Goodman has denied the allegations.

Through a newspaper ad, attorneys are seeking additional victims for a class-action suit. Lawyer James Bendell of Port Townsend, Wash., named Goodman as the subject of a developing lawsuit alleging the priest sexually abused altar boys in the late 1980s.

"So far we have about four victims," Bendell said.

Bendell, working in conjunction with Springfield attorney Frederic Nessler, bought space in Tuesday's classified advertising section of The Lincoln Courier inquiring after other possible victims.

"In cases in which there may be a class of people, it is not unusual," Nessler said of the advertisement.

Goodman quit Holy Family abruptly, leaving his befuddled congregation only a farewell message in the Oct. 19 bulletin.

"Thirty-five years is a long time to stay in one parish, and you are deserving of having a new pastor," Goodman said in the message.

A diocesan representative cited poor health as the reason Goodman had Bendell and Nessler's charges blindsided Diocese of Peoria officials, spokeswoman Kate Kinney said.

"I think shock, first and foremost, that this is happening," Kinney said of diocesan vicar general James Campbell's reaction to the allegations.

"Monsignor Goodman's record is perfectly clear of any offenses to date," she said. "I think the diocese is pretty confident it isn't true."

Goodman, reportedly residing now in his native Pekin, has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment. Kinney said he has denied the allegations.

Bendell is a board member of Roman Catholic Faithful, a small group of ultraconservative Catholics that claims to be fighting "to restore Holy Mother Church," he said.

He became involved with the Lincoln case after a friend of one of the victims contacted Stephen Brady of Petersburg, the founder of Roman Catholic Faithful. Brady set up a November meeting in Lincoln with Bendell and another attorney, since replaced by Nessler.

Brady previously accused Springfield Catholic Bishop Daniel Ryan of sexually harassing priests. Although Roman Catholic Faithful has offered no proof of its charges, some members periodically picket the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and other places where Ryan appears.

Ryan has denied the allegations.


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