Priest Convicted of Child Sex Abuse

By Linnet Myers
Chicago Tribune
November 16, 1985

A Catholic priest was found guilty Friday of sexually abusing a 14-year-boy who a prosecutor said thought of the priest as "the father he never had."

Criminal Court Judge Lawrence Passarella found Rev. Robert Friese, who is on leave from the Archdiocese of Chicago, guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and taking indecent liberties with a child.

Father Friese, 33, admitted that he had abused the boy when he was interviewed by police after his August, 1984, arrest. But on the witness stand last week, he said "I lied to the policemen." The boy had told police of the abuse, and Father Friese said he thought he would help the youth if he told police that what the boy said was true.

Assistant State's Atty. James Comroe said that explanation "defies logic."

In announcing his verdict, Judge Passarella said that there's "been deceit by other people . . . throughout this whole matter."

He said the Department of Children and Family Services got custody of the victim when he was two years old and "they shunted him about . . . and really have given him very little chance."

According to trial testimony, the boy, now 17, has had 15 different placements during his 14 years with DCFS. In October, 1982, when the abuse began, the boy was living in Maryville Academy, a home for troubled youths, in Des Plaines.

Father Friese was a counselor there, but his initial concern for the boy "degenerated . . . into abuse," said Assistant State's Atty. Robert Cleary.

Father Friese continued to see the boy after he was transferred to a group home, according to testimony.

Father Friese became a priest in May, 1978. He was first a parish priest at St. Cyprian Catholic Church, River Grove, and was transferred in 1980 to St. Juliana's on Chicago's North Side. He will be sentenced Dec. 16.


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