Survivors group asks Belleville bishop to add 5 more names to clergy sex abuse list

Belleville News-Democrat [Belleville IL]

April 20, 2023

By Mike Koziatek

A group that advocates for victims of sexual abuse asked Belleville Bishop Michael McGovern on Wednesday to add five names, including those of two men in prison and a deceased nun, to the diocese’s public list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

The Diocese of Belleville said in a statement it will review the request from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Four of the five clergy members have been accused of sexual misconduct that occurred outside of the diocese, but they all had spent time in the Diocese of Belleville at one time, including a priest who once taught in East St. Louis and is now serving a federal prison sentence for possession of child pornography.

All of the clergy members on the Belleville Diocese’s current list of credibly accused persons are men. The nun cited by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests would be the first woman on the list.

In alphabetical order, here are the five persons the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests wants added to the Belleville Diocese’s list:

  • The Rev. James T. Beighlie
  • Robert J. Lanter, resigned deacon
  • Frederick A. Lenczycki, laicized priest
  • Dennis J. McClintock, laicized priest
  • The late Sister Cheryl A. Porte

While noting this year is the 30th anniversary of when the Belleville Diocese began removing priests from ministry in 1993 for sexual abuse of children, five volunteers with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests conducted a news conference outside the diocese’s headquarters in downtown Belleville. They then hand delivered a letter to diocese’s office asking the five names be added to the diocese’s list.

“None of them are on the official Belleville Diocesan list,” said David Clohessy.

Clohessy, the Missouri volunteer director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and former national director of the group, spoke during a news conference.

The group wants people to know that the four priests and nun spent time in the Belleville Diocese so that possible victims know who to contact.

“This is a huge, huge issue,” said Joe Dahlem of St. Louis during the news conference. He’s a volunteer with the advocacy group.


In response to the letter, the diocese released a statement on Wednesday.

“The Diocese of Belleville takes seriously any information we receive concerning possible sexual abuse of minors by clerics who ministered or served in our diocese,” the statement said.

The statement said the diocese in recent years has added clerics to the diocese’s list based on information provided by third parties, including the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“Once we receive this information, we investigate to determine: first, whether the cleric in question had a meaningful connection with our diocese; and second, whether a civil or other religious body has made a determination that the allegation of abuse against the cleric is credible,” the statement said.

“If we are able to make those two determinations, we add the cleric to our diocese’s credibly accused list. We have added to our list as recently as the autumn of 2022.” The diocese will follow this process with the latest information from the advocacy group and will make a decision “as soon as we are able.”

The current list is posted on the diocese’s website under the “child protection/safe environment” section on a link called “diocesan clergy with credible/substantial allegations.” It was last updated in September.

It has 42 names of priests and deacons, including 21 who were formally associated with the Belleville Diocese and 21 who were not officially part of the diocese but had a “meaningful connection” to it.


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests previously held news conferences in 2019 and 2021 outside the diocese’s headquarters asking for names to be added to the list and Clohessy said the diocese has made some additions as requested but not all. “We shouldn’t have to remind you of this Bishop, but every time an abuser remains hidden, kids remain at risk,” the advocacy’s group’s letter to McGovern stated. “Disclosing the truth – the full truth – is the best way to safeguard the vulnerable, heal the wounded and help the church move forward.”

Here’s additional information on the five persons, including their ties to the Belleville Diocese:


The Rev. James T. Beighlie, a member of the Congregation of the Mission order of priests who once taught in East St. Louis, was serving a parish in St. Louis when he was arrested after leaving a nude photo of himself on a church printer in 2021, according to The Kansas City Star, which is part of the company that owns the Belleville News-Democrat.

He created two PowerPoint slideshows that contained thousands of slides filled with child erotica, according to the priest’s plea agreement cited by The Star. The male and female children were nude in the images, The Star reported.

Beighlie subsequently pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of child pornography and he was given a five-year prison sentence in January. He is in custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and he is still a priest, Chris Duggan, spokesman for the Congregation of the Mission Western Province, said Wednesday.

Beighlie was a teacher at the Vincent Gray Academy in East St. Louis in the 2008-09 school year, according to Duggan.

A representative from the high school on State Street could not be reached for comment. A web page linked to the Vincent Gray Academy describes it as a private, nonprofit school that aims to educate youths who are “high risk economically or socially oppressed.”


Robert J. Lanter, 72, resigned as the Belleville Diocese deacon coordinator in 2019 after he was charged in St. Clair County with criminal sexual assault of a 29-year-old woman who was unable to give consent in Swansea, according a Belleville News-Democrat article.

Lanter subsequently pleaded guilty in December 2019 to a lesser charge of attempted sexual assault. He was sentenced to serve 120 straight days in St. Clair County Jail. The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office reported that Lanter would be required to register as a sex offender for life.

On Wednesday, the Illinois State Police sex offender registry showed that Lanter was living in Swansea.

Lanter had been the diocese’s deacon coordinator and was assigned to St. Luke Church in Belleville. He also served at St. Teresa Church in Belleville, which has a partnership with St. Luke. He was ordained in 1997, according to the News-Democrat.


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests had asked the Belleville Diocese in 2019 to include Frederick A. Lenczycki’s name on the credibly accused list but the diocese has not done so.

Lenczycki is on the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Joliet Diocese lists of clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse.

Lenczycki, 78, pleaded guilty in 2019 to two counts of sodomy for abuse of two boys that occurred at a St. Louis County parish in the 1990s and was given a 10-year sentence, The Associated Press reported.

As of Wednesday, Lenczycki was in the Farmington Correctional Center in Farmington, Missouri.

Lenczycki also pleaded guilty in 2004 of abusing three altar boys in Hinsdale, Illinois, in the 1980s and was sentenced to five years in prison, the Daily Herald reported.

A prosecutor in DuPage County told a judge that Lenczycki was assigned to a “pastoral center” in Belleville from August 1991 through July 1992, according to court records listed by, a group that tracks cases of sexual abuse by clergy members.

Lenczycki was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2016, according to


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests had asked the Belleville Diocese in 2021 to include Dennis J. McClintock’s name on the credibly accused list but the diocese has not done so.

McClintock is named on the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ list of credibly accused priests.

McClintock was general manager of a “hotel that’s used for retreats” at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville until around 2009, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2019.

The St. Louis list states that McClintock was removed from ministry and laicized.

The archdiocese has stated that McClintock is among the clergy with “substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.” Three women told the Post-Dispatch that McClintock had “crossed boundaries at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church and grade school in south St. Louis County,” according to the 2019 newspaper article.


Sister Cheryl A. Porte, of the Marianites of Holy Cross, died in 2020 in New Orleans. She was 69.

Porte is listed on the’s list of persons credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

She was living in O’Fallon in 2002 when the leader of her religious order said Porte committed “inappropriate sexual behavior,” in the 1970s in Louisiana, according to a Belleville News-Democrat article.

Porte had been dismissed from a Louisiana middle school in 1979 after complaints she had a two-year sexual relationship with a girl who was 12 when the contact began.

In 2002, the victim gave The Times of Acadiana newspaper in Louisiana her account of what happened and described how she tried to kill herself three times when she was teenager.

While in the metro-east, Porte had been an occasional guest speaker at adult religious seminars at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in O’Fallon, the News-Democrat reported. Belleville News-Democrat reporter Lexi Cortes contributed information for this article.