Diocese of Joliet: The David Rudofski Child Protection Archive


[with complete files on 16 priests]

A large selection of Joliet diocesan files regarding the sexual abuse of children by priests, and the mishandling of those crimes by the diocese, was released by abuse survivor David Rudofski and his advocates on April 30, 2014. The release was the latest step in a dramatic story that dates back to the early days of the diocese, which was erected in 1948 from the Chicago archdiocese and the dioceses of Peoria and Rockford.

The documents, which are provided in their entirety below, have much to tell us about the horrifying details of individual cases and the methods used by the Catholic hierarchy to protect the priests involved while containing the information about their crimes. Rudofski’s struggle to make the documents public highlights the foundational role played by survivors in the somewhat greater accountability we see today, and makes clear what is driving that accountability. The document release also sheds light on the generally still poor state of accountability post-Dallas, owing to the weaknesses of the Norms as revised by the Vatican and the failure to implement the aspirational language of the Charter. The Rudofski Archive argues for an increased commitment by the bishops to list their accused and make public the voluminous files that the dioceses and religious orders hold.

David Rudofski was sexually assaulted by the Rev. James Burnett at his First Confession in 1982 at St. Mary’s church in Mokena, Illinois. His molestation was a crime, and because it was perpetrated during confession, it was one of the gravest offenses a priest can commit under the Catholic church’s own Code. Yet the file demonstrates the way in which a priest such as Burnett, who is accused by three persons, two of whom were abused in the confessional, can be effectively shielded by the framework established by the U.S. bishops in Dallas in 2002. What the bishops did not anticipate in Dallas was that the survivors of clergy abuse would take the bishops’ commitment to transparency and responsibility much more seriously than the bishops themselves.

Rudofski refused to settle with the Diocese of Joliet without the release of the files for all the accused priests whose cases were mishandled during the same time that Burnett was abusing Rudofski and Dan Shanahan (the survivor who first went public about Burnett’s abuse). Rudofski was supported by his attorney Terrence Johnson, and after a protracted and costly legal battle, Rudofski prevailed, by order of Will County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Powers.

The results of Rudofski’s determination are available below, as well as on the websites of attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman. Anderson had taken the deposition of Bishop Joseph Imesch of Joliet in 2005, another benchmark in accountability within the diocese. Imesch’s mishandling of four cases, including the Gibbs and Lenczycki abuses documented below, had earned him the dubious honor of inclusion in the Dallas Morning News’ database of enabling bishops. That article was on the newsstands when the bishops gathered in Dallas. Below we provide the local news coverage that unfolded in Joliet at the same time that the story was breaking in Boston, as the highly local abuse crisis, which occurred parish-by-parish and home-by-home, became a national and global concern….

Rev. James Burnett
Rev. Phillip J. Dedera
Rev. Salvatore V. Formusa
Rev. James Frederick
Rev. Michael L. Gibbney
Rev. Lawrence M. Gibbs
Rev. Carroll Howlin
Rev. Frederick A. Lenczycki
Rev. Leonardo Mateo
Rev. Lawrence Mullins
Rev. Donald O’Connor
Rev. Donald P. Pock
Rev. Anthony J. Ross
Rev. John Slown
Rev. William D. Virtue

Bishop Imesch Documents

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.