Ex-Sox Player Accuses Priest of Molestation
By Cathleen Falsani
March 24, 2002
Former Chicago White Sox player and announcer Tom Paciorek said Friday he and three of his four brothers were sexually molested as children by a Roman Catholic parish priest who was removed from his Michigan parish last week.
Paciorek alleges that the Rev. Gerald Shirilla, 63, molested him for four years in the 1960s while he was a student at St. Ladislaus High School in a Detroit suburb, where the priest was a teacher and family friend.
Three of Paciorek's siblings, older brother John and younger brothers Mike and Bobby, also say they were sexually abused by Shirilla in the 1960s and '70s. The former All-Star said he and his brothers decided to come forward when they learned that Shirilla, who had been barred from ministry in the Detroit Archdiocese in 1993 after other men made allegations of sexual abuse against him, had been appointed to another Michigan parish last August.
"Something inside of me--God talking to me or whatever--knew I had to do something," Paciorek said by phone from Florida, where he is covering the Atlanta Braves for Fox SportsNet. "Those children were in danger at that parish."
Detroit archdiocesan officials removed Shirilla on Wednesday from St. Mary Catholic Church in Alpena, Mich., saying "the prohibition of his service as priest ... continues in effect."
Paciorek, 55, who played for the Sox in the 1980s and was one of the club's announcers for 12 years, until August 2000, is the first celebrity to come forward and say he was abused by a Roman Catholic priest since the current national scandal broke in January.
Shirilla's attorney, Michael Smith, says the priest "adamantly denied sexually molesting anyone," and that Paciorek's allegations are unfair.
"It's very difficult to defend allegations that are made some 40 years ago. I would say if [Paciorek] was bothered by that, he should have come forward at that time. I'm sorry he feels the way he does, but I am adamantly angry for someone making allegations like this."
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