Church Victims Reach into Past, Tell of Abuse

By Jim Ritter
Chicago Sun-Times
May 28, 2002

"Today, more than ever before, there is a climate in which victims are led to believe it's safe to come forward," said Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

That seems to be the case with two Archdiocese of Chicago priests who were removed from their ministries over the weekend. Three people came forward in March and April with complaints dating back more than 25 years against the Rev. Peter Bowman and the Rev. Donald Mulsoff.

Bowman was removed from St. Teresa of Avila in Lincoln Park, and Mulsoff was removed from St. Celestine on the South Side. They can have no contact with the public.

Since January, four archdiocese priests have been removed, and a fifth fled to India. Several others are being investigated, archdiocese spokesman Jim Dwyer said. The archdiocese refers complaints to prosecutors and encourages victims to do the same. But the statue of limitations for prosecuting Bowman and Mulsoff has long since passed.

The archdiocese received an anonymous complaint against Mulsoff in 1992 but did not investigate because the alleged victim refused to be interviewed, Dwyer said.

The first complaint against Mulsoff from an identified victim was filed in March. A second victim came forward in April. The complaints, considered credible by an archdiocese review board, alleged Mulsoff sexually abused minors at St. Catherine of Alexandria in Oak Lawn and at Mary, Queen of Heaven in Cicero more than 25 years ago.

The archdiocese received its first complaint against Bowman several years ago but determined the incident was "horseplay." The first credible complaint, made in April, alleged sexual abuse against a minor more than 45 years ago at St. Denis in Chicago.

After receiving credible allegations, the archdiocese should remove priests immediately, Blaine said. Delay "is one more betrayal of trust from church leaders."

In 1993, Bowman attended a prayer service for victims of sexual abuse, including those abused by priests. Bowman told a reporter that priests must not stand in judgment of their brothers.

"It's kind of like there, but for the grace of God, go I," he said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.