Archdiocese settles $800K worth of claims against George Clements, 4 others

WGN-TV [Chicago IL]

April 26, 2022

By Andy Koval

The Archdiocese of Chicago reached an $800,000 settlement against longtime South Side priest the Rev. George Clements and four others, according to an attorney representing the victims.

The settlement, which was completed back in February, alleges the Rev. George Clements, who died in 2019, repeatedly sexually abused a boy from approximately 1974 to 1979 when the boy was 7 to 12 years old.

At the time, Clements was pastor at Holy Angels, where he served in Bronzeville from 1969 to 1991.

Clements was a longtime advocate for civil rights and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago. In 1981, he became the first Chicago area priest to get approval from the Vatican to adopt a child — a 13-year-old boy. He went on to adopt three more teen boys throughout the ’80s.

Clements served in the following parishes after becoming ordained in 1957, according to an archdiocese list from 2019.

  • St. Ambrose Parish (Chicago, 47th Street), associate pastor, July 6, 1957 – July 6, 1962
  •  St. Dorothy Parish (Chicago, 78th Street), associate pastor, July 7, 1962 – June 19, 1969
  •  Holy Angels Parish (Chicago, Oakwood Boulevard), pastor, June 20, 1969 – June 30, 1991
  •  Diocese of Nassau Bahamas, West Indies, September 1, 1991 – October 17, 1993
  •  St. Sabina Parish (Chicago, Throop Street), resident priest, 1993
  •  Archdiocese of Washington DC, October 18, 1993 – March 31, 2006
  •  Holy Angels Parish (Chicago, Oakwood Boulevard), pastor emeritus, March 31, 2006

Roughly four months before his death, Clements was accused by two men of child sexual abuse back in 1974. The archdiocese cleared Clements in August 2020, after DCFS classified the allegations as “unfounded.” That designation was given because the agency can only investigate a current child victim and cannot look into past claims of abuse.

“For the sake of transparency and healing Cardinal Cupich has a moral responsibility to publicly list Fr. George H. Clements on the publicly credibly accused sexual abuser list of the Archdiocese of Chicago,” attorney Mitchell Garabedian told WGN News.

Garabedian told WGN News his client is not one of the two men who sparked the investigation in 2019.

Clements is not on the Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of credibly accused priests, which was last updated on June 21, 2021 — according to the Sun-Times.

Clements is not the only Chicago area priest to be included in the recent settlements. Four other people, who were children at the time, brought claims against the Rev. Michael Weston, Fr. Daniel Holihan, the Rev. Joseph Fitzharris and Br. Edward Courtney.

Courtney, who worked at St. Laurence in Burbank, St. Leo and Brother Rice, both in Chicago, was accused of being a “serial sexual predator,” — according to an investigation by the Sun-Times.

There is no admission of wrongdoing on behalf of the archdiocese, according to the settlements.

In total, the Archdiocese of Chicago paid out $800,000 in the settlements, each in the “low six figures” to the five alleged victims, according to Garabedian.

The Archdiocese of Chicago refused to comment on this story, citing litigation.