Joliet Diocese Suspends Priest
Allegations Date to '75 Romeoville Seminary Post
By David Heinzmann
April 17, 2002
The Catholic Diocese of Joliet has removed Rev. Carroll Howlin from his position running a mission for poor families in rural Kentucky after learning of allegations that he sexually abused a teenage seminarian in 1975.
The abuse allegedly occurred while Howlin was a teacher at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, near Romeoville, and during a youth trip to Kentucky.
Although he is assigned to the Diocese of Joliet, Howlin has been serving the mission in Kentucky since 1977. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Bishop Joseph Imesch said Howlin had been suspended from public ministry while the allegations are investigated. Imesch said he notified Howlin on April 12 that he would be suspended after celebrating mass Sunday.
The alleged victim's parents brought the claims to church officials on April 9. Church officials said they had not yet met with the alleged victim.
An attorney for the family said the alleged victim is now his 40s , married with children, and living in the western United States. In 1975, he was a 15-year-old junior at the seminary, which closed in 1981, attorney Keith Aeschliman said. Over the course of the spring semester, the alleged victim has said, Howlin sexually abused him multiple times at the seminary, Aeschliman said.
At the end of the school year, a group of seminarians accompanied Howlin to Whitley City, Ky., to work briefly at the Good Shepherd Chapel, a parish mission in McCreary County. The alleged victim said further sexual abuse occurred during the trip.
Two years later, Howlin relocated to McCreary County, where he eventually became pastor of Good Shepherd Chapel.
Howlin declined to comment when reached by telephone at his home in Kentucky Tuesday.
Howlin's suspension was publicly acknowledged Tuesday by the diocese of Lexington, which released a statement from Bishop J. Kendrick Williams saying that he and Imesch had both suspended the priest. Though Howlin reports to the Joliet Diocese, Williams oversees Good Shepherd, said Lexington diocese spokesman Tom Shaughnessy.
Shaughnessy said church officials in Kentucky had no evidence of sexual misconduct while Howlin worked there.
Good Shepherd parish has just 23 households as members, according to diocesan records. but the parish works with extremely poor families in the area. In addition to Howlin, the parish is served by four Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, a Connecticut-based order of nuns.
Howlin is the third Joliet Diocese priest in as many weeks to be removed from his duties because of allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct with boys.
In the first week of April the diocese removed Rev. Gary Berthiaume from his position as chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove after it was disclosed that he had been convicted of molesting a child in Michigan 24 years ago.
Last week, Rev. Phillip Dedera was removed from his position as a chaplain at Edward Hospital in Naperville and chaplain at St. Patrick's Residence, a Naperville nursing home. Church officials said they had received a "credible" allegation that Dedera sexually abused a teenager in 1974 while he was serving at St. Andrew parish in Romeoville.
On Tuesday Imesch responded to questions that he had asked be faxed to him by the Tribune on April 12.
The diocese believes the allegation against Dedera "is factual" and warrants no further investigation, Imesch said in a faxed reply.
Dedera is currently receiving counseling outside the diocese, he said.
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