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  Accused Priest to Face Charges
Ruling Follows Internet Sex Sting

By Jeff Coen
Chicago Tribune
March 14, 2000

Rev. John Furdek, the Villa Park priest arrested in Wisconsin last month in an Internet sex sting, will face a battery of charges filed against him after he was accused of using the Internet to set up a sexual encounter with an undercover detective posing online as a 14-year-old boy.

A Racine County, Wis., judge on Monday ruled that the accusations leveled against Furdek would stand, a list of charges that includes attempted second-degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver.

His attorney, Pat Cafferty, has declined to discuss the specifics of the case.

In the weeks before his Feb. 17 arrest, authorities allege, Furdek communicated with an agent from the Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation. Furdek allegedly thought he was setting up a rendezvous with a 14-year-old boy named "Alex" who used the screen name "14too," prosecutors said.

The former pastor of St. Alexander Catholic Church was arrested at a Racine fast-food restaurant where police say he planned to meet the boy.

Prosecuting the case for the Racine County district attorney's office is Assistant District Atty. Brian Pawlak, who said Furdek is the third defendant in an Internet sex case that he has prosecuted.

Furdek, relieved of his duties as pastor of St. Alexander Catholic Church in Villa Park in the wake of the allegations, has posted bond and been released from custody on the grounds that he not have contact with anyone younger than 18 or use a computer.

Furdek is due back in court April 7, when the attorneys in the case are set to argue motions related to the drug charge against the priest.

Pawlak has said he is prepared to introduce a laboratory report on the anabolic steroids that Furdek allegedly brought with him to the meeting.

Authorities have said Furdek attempted to build a rapport with his on-line acquaintance with talk of weight lifting. Two types of steroids and a small amount of marijuana allegedly were recovered from Furdek's car at the time of his arrest outside the restaurant.

Investigators have seized computers of Furdek's from his church-owned home in Villa Park, and at a Chicago condominium that authorities have said the priest owns. Additional steroids also were recovered from Furdek's Lincoln Park address, investigators said.

Pawlak has said he eventually expects Cafferty will challenge the charges against Furdek on the grounds that there is no victim in the case, since there was no real 14-year-old boy.

"I believe the challenge will be that there is no actual child and no actual crime," Pawlak said. "But we've managed to withstand that in the past."

Prosecutors will point to Furdek's intent, Pawlak said.

"As far as he was concerned, he was going to have sex with a child," he said.

Leaders of St. Alexander Catholic Church have declined to comment on the case. Officials at the Catholic Diocese of Joliet have said they are "appalled" at the charges, and have made a crisis intervention team available to the faculty at St. Alexander School.

 
 

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