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  Joliet Diocese Sued for Abuse Records: Minnesota Man Wants Church to Release All Accused Priests' Names

By Manya A. Brachear
Chicago Tribune
March 1, 2006

Mar. 1--A man who says a priest abused him more than 30 years ago in Downers Grove filed suit Tuesday, demanding the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet name all priests accused of abusing minors since 1950.

The suit filed in DuPage County by George Knotek, 52, of Minneapolis seeks no financial settlement. It asks the diocese to release the names of at least 30 credibly accused priests as well as records of the allegations against them.

"It's bad enough that this culture of abuse has been allowed to continue," Knotek said Tuesday during an emotional news conference. "But that the church to this day doesn't come forward with the truth ... shame on you."

Knotek said he was abused by Rev. Donald Pock in 1970, when Pock was pastor at Divine Savior parish in Downers Grove.

Knotek, then 16, said he asked to talk to Pock about becoming a priest. Pock molested him that night, he said.

"The night I was victimized I went to see my priest to talk about my vocation to become a priest, and that sent me into a nightmare that has lasted for years," he said.

The Joliet diocese announced in 2002 that Pock had been removed from ministry because of a substantiated abuse allegation. But both the Joliet diocese and the archdiocese of Chicago have declined to make available a complete list of all accused priests, as some other dioceses have done. Pock died in 2004.

Knotek credits his brother Michael, pastor of St. John de la Salle Church on Chicago's South Side, for urging him to tell authorities about the abuse in the mid-1970s and in 2002.

"As a priest, I love the church and I love my brother," Rev. Michael Knotek said Tuesday. "And I hope that the church and my brother get together and justice is served and that some peaceful resolution comes from all that."

When George Knotek contacted the Joliet diocese in 2002, the church claimed it had no record of his allegation in the mid-1970s and insisted on interviewing him a second time, Knotek said. Dissatisfied with the diocese response after the interview, Knotek wrote a letter, which his brother hand-delivered to Cardinal Francis George, who heads the archdiocese of Chicago.

Knotek said he hopes that by making the names public, others would not be "re-victimized" by church leaders. He told his two children Monday about the lawsuit.

"Let me tell you, leaders of the church, we're not going to stop until you show our kids what is right," he said.

The Joliet diocese responded to the lawsuit Tuesday with a written statement.

"We want to assure the public that there are no priests currently in ministry in the diocese of Joliet with credible allegations against them," it said. "The diocese extends its prayers to the survivors of these sinful and criminal acts."

Knotek's attorney, Marc Pearlman, said apologies and assurances have not lead to action.

"The actions are indicative of what's happened," Pearlman said. "And what's happened is nothing."

Last month, a similar lawsuit was filed requesting that the Chicago archdiocese release the names of accused priests in the wake of allegations against Rev. Daniel McCormack, the former pastor at St. Agatha Parish, who has been charged with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child.

Chicago-area members of Voice of the Faithful on Tuesday echoed the lawsuits' request for more transparency. The group said it would ask George on Wednesday to support extending the statute of limitations in cases of sexual abuse of minors.

 
 

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