Ex-Priest Admits to Molestations

Associated Press
December 10, 2002

Chicago - A former Roman Catholic priest convicted of possessing child pornography said he couldn't estimate how many boys he had molested while working at Chicago-area parishes because there were so many.

Vincent McCaffrey first testified at his sentencing hearing Monday that he molested at least 12 to 14 boys during his years as a priest. But under cross-examination he acknowledged he really didn't know how many he had victimized.

"I deeply regret my harm and my hurt to everyone," said McCaffrey, 50, addressing the victims in the courtroom. "I promise you my prayers every day of my life for the rest of my life."

McCaffrey has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography that included hundreds of images of boys, some under 12, engaging in sexual relations, being beaten and even confined in cages. He has not been charged in any of the molestations but federal prosecutors are introducing them as evidence as they seek a stiff sentence.

The government is seeking as much as 20 years in prison for the former priest.

Federal prosecutors on Monday called to the stand five victims who say McCaffrey molested them. The victims, testifying by their first names only to protect their identities, said the molestations occurred at four parishes from the late 1970s to 1990.

One victim, Kevin, a construction worker whose family was close to McCaffrey, estimated he was molested more than 200 times over 5 to 6 years.

"My life has been destroyed," said Kevin. "It feels like it's dead. There's really no purpose to live. The only time I feel alive is when I'm angry."

Testimony revealed that the Chicago archdiocese learned of McCaffrey's sexual misconduct as early as 1980 but returned him to parish duties after he had undergone in-patient treatment. McCaffrey was finally removed from parish duties in 1991 due to reforms instituted by then-Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

"There is realization that not enough was done," said Jim Dwyer, an archdiocese spokesman. "No matter what we do, nothing will make up for the damage done to the victims."

McCaffrey's sentencing hearing is scheduled to resume Jan. 6. He is being held in the downtown federal lockup.


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