Sex abuse suit accuses Joliet Diocese of protecting priests

Chicago Sun-Times

[The David Rudofski Child Protection Archive –]

[Joliet diocese]

[Abuse by Clergy in Chicago]

BY FRANCINE KNOWLES Religion Reporter April 30, 2014

The Diocese of Joliet was hit with five lawsuits Wednesday alleging four priests sexually abused minors decades ago and was accused of continuing a pattern of protecting priests while leaving children at risk.

The suits were announced by plaintiffs’ attorneys, who also made public thousands of pages of diocese files on 16 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The documents suggest a pattern of diocese officials failing to notify the police or unsuspecting parishioners about the abuse.

The documents were released by the diocese in a non-cash settlement following a lawsuit brought by David Rudofski, who alleged he was abused by the Rev. James Burnett. Burnett was removed from ministry in 2006.

One of the latest lawsuits “brings a nuisance claim, and that means that that claim, which has yet to be brought in this state before, claims that the bishops for the Diocese of Joliet have in the past and to the present continue to choose to engage in making conscious choices to protect the reputation of their priests and themselves at the peril of children,” said attorney Jeff Anderson.

Attorneys called on the diocese to release all documents on priests accused of abusing minors.

The diocese “has not yet been served with the five lawsuits filed in Will County Court today,” the diocese said in a statement. “After receiving copies of the suits and reviewing the specifics of the pleadings, diocesan officials will respond in the appropriate forum.

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