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  Priests in Sex Cases Listed: Joliet Diocese Names 22 on Internet Site

By Manya A. Brachear
Chicago Tribune
April 11, 2006

Apr. 11—After years of fending off requests by victims' advocates to release the names of priests suspected of sexually abusing minors, Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch on Monday posted a list on the diocese's Web site.

But though church officials characterized the disclosure of those facing substantiated claims of abuse as a move toward greater transparency, several clergymen who served in the Joliet diocese but were accused of misconduct in other places were omitted.

"We're not talking about their actions elsewhere," said Joliet diocese spokesman Tom Kerber. "We're trying to be very transparent in regards to the people serving in Joliet."

The list of 22 priests—four never before made public—failed to include retired Springfield Bishop Daniel Ryan, whose case has been forwarded to the Vatican for review. He served as an auxiliary bishop in Joliet. It also did not include Rev. Gary Berthiaume because the allegations against him stem from Michigan when Imesch served there.

The list disclosed that Revs. Salvatore Formusa, James Frederick, Leonardo Mateo and Richard Ruffalo faced substantiated abuse allegations.

Though Ruffalo was once named in a civil suit, church officials had never confirmed whether they suspected him of abuse. He served in at least seven parishes in Joliet including St. Raymond Cathedral and in Las Vegas. He died in 1997.

Frederick, a former financial officer for the diocese, died in 1988.

Formusa, a former associate pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Frankfort, retired in 1985. He now lives in St. Benedict Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Niles. And Mateo reportedly left the diocese in 1984 and returned to the Archdiocese of Cebu in the Philippines.

Victims' advocates have long pushed dioceses to warn parishioners and encourage victims to come forward by releasing the names of accused priests as well as details of the allegations against them.

In February, a Minneapolis man filed a class action complaint demanding the names and files of priests accused of abusing children in the Joliet diocese since 1950. The Chicago Catholic Archdiocese released a list of 55 diocesan priests—excluding priests posthumously accused—after a similar lawsuit was filed in January.

Kerber could not explain why the Joliet list excluded four other priests with allegations against them in Joliet who were named in the lawsuit.

Imesch promised parishioners in a letter last month that he would publish the list of priests.

Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul attorney who represents the Minneapolis man, scoffed at the list, calling it a "half-truth."

"This is not anything more than minimalism," he said, "doing the least possible to give the best impression."

 
 

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