Religious Order to Build Memorial to Abuse Victims

By Dan Rozek
Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]
December 8, 2004

A Roman Catholic religious order has agreed to build a memorial for victims who filed a lawsuit last year contending they were sexually abused by one of its priests while he was assigned to a South Side parish in the 1970s and '80s.

The memorial is one of the key provisions in a settlement announced Tuesday that ends a 2003 lawsuit brought in Cook County by 13 men who said they were molested by John D. Murphy, then a Catholic priest in the Augustinian order assigned to St. Rita parish.

The financial terms of the settlement weren't disclosed. But attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, who represented the men, said key agreements included the memorial, holding a healing mass for sex abuse survivors and including survivors and family members on a committee reviewing sex abuse allegations against priests.

One of the first two men to come forward to file the suit in February 2003 said he is relieved a settlement has been reached. "I'm glad it's over," said the man, identified in the lawsuit as John Doe 74A. "It wasn't about money, it was about helping other victims."

Doe 74A, who is now in his mid-40s, contended in the suit he was fondled by Murphy in the early 1970s while on retreats in Michigan.

No longer a priest

Murphy left the priesthood about 1993. He had been working as a docent and guest services supervisor at the Shedd Aquarium until shortly before the suit was filed.

An attorney representing the Augustinian order called the plans for a memorial a "very positive thing" and said the agreements to aid abuse survivors are significant.

"I think this is a terrific effort by both sides," said attorney James Geoly, adding that the Augustinian order still disputes it ignored or mishandled complaints involving Murphy.

The settlement primarily involved the Augustinian order, but also included the Archdiocese of Chicago. A spokesman there said five of the 13 victims had cases involving archdiocesan property.

Murphy, now 62, couldn't be reached for comment.


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