Attorneys Claim Priest's Abuse Victims Number up to 22

By Jim Stahly Jr.
The Pantagraph [Bloomington, IL]
December 31, 1997

Two attorneys representing several boys allegedly molested by a retired Lincoln priest say the Rev. Norman Goodman may have molested as many as 22 boys over more than a decade.

Further, they're also investigating another alleged incident of abuse involving another altar boy and another priest.

No charges have been filed against Goodman, and it will likely be 60 to 90 days before investigators hired by the team of attorneys complete their task, said Lincoln attorney Frederic Nessler, a member of the team. But the state Department of Children and Family Services is investigating one complaint on behalf of a 15-year-old alleged victim.

Goodman did not attend the conference, and has denied the allegations to Peoria Diocese officials.

The molestations, which Nessler said sometimes occurred in small groups, happened over a period that "transcends 10 to 15 years" in three different Logan County parishes.

"They all fairly much tell the same story," Nessler said.

Goodman was ordained in 1960, and moved to the Lincoln area in 1962. He has served as pastor or co-pastor in Lincoln's St. Patrick's and Holy Family parishes as well as in churches in Atlanta and Mason City.

Nessler and fellow attorney James Bendell of Washington state told reporters and about 40 others at Springfield's Hilton Tuesday night that they chose to go public with the allegations because accused priests often are simply moved. Further, Nessler said the diocesan office was notified in 1984 and again in 1989 about suspected incidents but did not act.

When RCF began investigating this time, there were results. However, Goodman retired before RCF went public with the allegations.

"Within weeks, Goodman was no longer in the parish," Bendell said, challenging the priest to deny the charges in public.

"The idea of suing a diocese of the church was troublesome," he said. However, the long-term effects of molestation - ranging from sexual dysfunction to one person who Bendell said slept with a machete under his pillow - became the most serious issue. "We have to reveal the sore, the scab. " And while Bendell is a board member of The Roman Catholic Faithful Inc., Stephen Brady of Petersburg, the president and founder of the group, distanced the organization from the allegations, saying that while Brady had directed some of the parties to Bendell, an RCF board member, the organization was not actually involved and would not benefit monetarily from any proceedings.

"That couldn't be farther from the case," he said.

Asked why their clients had not come forward before, Bendell likened the incidents to a rape case - except with numerous corroborating witnesses.

"There so much guilt and shame because of it," Bendell said, adding that victims often believe they are some way at fault.

The attorneys said they had not determined how much they would seek in a lawsuit, but did say they would not be paid if there is not an award.


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