Peoria Bishop Sued in Molest Allegation Case

By Michael Miller
Copley News Service
December 19, 1997

Bishop John J. Myers and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria are being sued by a man who said he was molested by a priest in 1992.

The priest, the Rev. Toussaint J. Perron, pleaded guilty in 1993 to aggravated criminal sexual abuse and served a three-year prison sentence. He was accused of molesting the boy, then 14, while serving as pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Ohio and St. John's in Walnut.

The victim, now 18, and his parents have filed the suit in LaSalle County Circuit Court in Ottawa.

They are accusing the diocese and Myers, as "Trustee for the Diocese of Peoria Trust," of "vicarious liability" for Perron's actions, as well as negligence in placement and supervision of the priest, according to the lawsuit, filed by attorney Frank Cook of Freeport.

The abuse caused psychological distress to the family, the suit says, and also has caused a loss of income to the parents and incurred expenses for them.

The family's suit includes seven counts. They are asking for damages of more than $50,000 on each count.

Diocesan attorney Tim Bertschy of Peoria said Thursday that the diocese is denying the allegations of liability and negligence made in the lawsuit.

"The diocese had no information prior to the time that Father Perron began working within the diocese of any problems," Bertschy said. "There were no indications of improper conduct while he was working within the diocese" before the arrest, the diocesan attorney added.

Perron, a member of the Missionaries of Africa religious order, began serving in the Diocese of Peoria around 1974.

Bertschy said that, in accordance with diocesan policy, Perron was suspended from his duties upon his arrest in 1992 and has not worked in the diocese since that time.


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