Priest Accused of Sex Assault in '99

By Dan Rozek
Chicago Sun-Times
December 5, 2002

A Roman Catholic priest was charged Wednesday with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl while he served at a Geneva church in 1999.

After his arrest, the Rev. Mark Campobello, 37, was removed from his duties at a Belvidere church where he had served as parochial administrator since June 2001.

"We are saddened by the allegations in this case involving Father Mark Campobello, and most especially we express our sorrow to the alleged victim and her family," Rockford Diocese spokesman Owen Phelps said in a statement. "Sexual abuse of minors is both a tragedy and a travesty, and we will not tolerate it in our diocese."

Campobello is accused of having sexual contact with the girl between January and May of 1999, when he was living in the rectory at St. Peter Church in Geneva, Kane County prosecutors said.

At that time, Campobello was assistant principal at Aurora Central Catholic High School but still occasionally said mass at St. Peter, where he had worked as an associate pastor, officials said.

Campobello was serving at St. James Church in Belvidere until his arrest.

He was released after posting 10 percent of his $75,000 bail.

In an unrelated case, a former Roman Catholic priest living in Darien is fighting extradition to California, where he faces criminal charges for allegedly molesting a child more than 40 years ago.

Matthew M. Sprouffske, 75, has been charged with molesting an underage girl between 1955 and 1959 while he was assigned to Mount Carmel High School in Los Angeles, California authorities said.

Sprouffske, who left the priesthood earlier this year, appeared in DuPage County Circuit Court on Tuesday, where his attorney said Sprouffske will challenge his extradition to Los Angeles.

The charges against him carry a sentence of up to life in prison. He is free on bail.


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