How the archdiocese is working to prevent abuse

Daily Herald

[with timeline]

Christopher Placek

t was 25 years after he was abused by a Catholic priest that Mike Hoffman finally decided to tell someone.

In 2006, he was reading a newspaper article about victims of clergy sex abuse suing the Archdiocese of Chicago. The names of Hoffman’s abuser, Robert Mayer, and classmates who were victims, stood out.

The abuse Hoffman experienced as a teenager at the Church of St. Mary in Lake Forest had become his “normal.”

“That article triggered the fact it wasn’t normal at all,” said Hoffman, now 49, a Chicago resident and owner of a Mount Prospect small business. “That was painful abuse.”

Hoffman contacted the archdiocese to tell his story and, months later, was told an internal review board determined sexual misconduct did occur — a judgment accepted by Cardinal Francis George. Hoffman soon after negotiated a financial settlement with the archdiocese, which also agreed to pay for three years of counseling sessions.

Archdiocese officials say they have substantiated 352 abuse cases relating to 66 priests since 1952 and paid out $130 million in settlements to victims. They say the policies and procedures they’ve implemented in light of the sex abuse scandal can help prevent abuse from happening again. The church’s sharpest critics disagree.

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