Priest Says He Didn't Abuse Girl

By Terry Wilson
Chicago Tribune
December 11, 1992

A Roman Catholic priest who is on trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl by touching one of her breasts and reaching under her skirt denied the charges Thursday.

Rev. Robert Mayer, 53, who was pastor at St. Odilo Church in Berwyn, told Cook County Circuit Judge Thomas Durkin that he had defended the girl, who sometimes was the brunt of "boy talk" and that he had been misinterpreted.

"She was regularly put down by the guys," Mayer testified. "I would say, 'She's cute; she's an attractive girl.' They would tell me I've got the hots for her."

The testimony came on the second day of the trial, which was suspended until Friday when a defense witness failed to appear.

Mayer, who has been a priest for 29 years and served as pastor at the Berwyn church from September 1990 to July 1991, sat motionless and spoke in a gravelly voice, occasionally chewing the insides of his mouth.

On Wednesday, the alleged victim testified that she had gone to the second-floor rectory to give Mayer a letter he had requested from her mother.

She testified that Mayer sat on a sofa so that his thigh touched hers and he moved toward her when she moved away. When she reached the end of the sofa, she testified, he stuck his right hand down her blouse and touched her breast and then placed his hand up her skirt as he sat with his left arm along the back of the sofa.

She testified that she did not say anything about the alleged incident until October 1991, when she and others in the parish learned of other reported improprieties that had led Mayer to resign.

Several boys supported her allegations by recalling off-color and shocking remarks that they said Mayer made about sexual acts he wanted to do with the girl.

Mayer testified that the alleged victim had not handed him the letter. He said he found the letter in his mailbox. Several other rectory employees testified that they did not recall letting her in or seeing her in January 1991.

Mayer testified that the alleged victim had been an altar server and that the boys disliked having a girl, particularly her, participating.

When she missed four services, she was dropped, he said. Others were only allowed to miss three services, Mayer said.

"I suspected they didn't give her the appointment sheet," he said, explaining why she missed the services. "They thought I was overly supportive of her."

When asked why he allowed some boys to work out in the recreation room of the rectory when he had been mandated by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin not to be alone with anyone under 21 years of age, Mayer said he had done no wrong.

"My interpretation was I was not to be alone with a single person under 21," he said.

He said the boys were in small groups, and he did not think the mandate precluded that or his teaching at the school.


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