Another Priest Removed after Abuse Charges

By Cathleen Falsani
Chicago Sun-Times
February 1, 2006

Cardinal Francis George has removed another priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago from ministry after 20-year-old allegations of his alleged sexual abuse of a minor were revealed earlier this week, the cardinal's spokeswoman Colleen Dolan told the Chicago Sun-Times late Tuesday.

"This unresolved case has been brought forward by an adult involving an incident that they assert happened over 20 years ago," Dolan said. "The cardinal has removed this priest from active ministry pending the completion of a review" by a board appointed by the archdiocese to vet allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

The priest's current and former parishes will be notified at parish masses on Sunday, following regular archdiocesan procedures, Dolan said, declining to reveal the name of the priest or the parishes involved.

Class-action suit filed

The revelation of this latest removal of a Chicago archdiocesan priest accused of sexual misconduct with a minor comes on the same day that a prominent attorney for victims of clergy sexual abuse filed a class-action lawsuit against the Chicago archdiocese, in the hopes of forcing church officials to open secret files and release a complete list of priests accused of sexually abusing children over the last half-century.

Attorney Jeff Anderson brought the class-action lawsuit on behalf of two clients: "Mother Doe 100," the parent of an 11-year-old Chicago boy who Monday told police and prosecutors that he had been molested by the Rev. Daniel McCormack, and Ken Kaczmarz, a 35-year-old suburban man who says he was molested by Augustinian-order priest John D. Murphy at Chicago's St. Rita of Cascia parish 30 years ago.

Anderson, who has represented more than 500 victims of abuse and has sued more than half of the Catholic diocese in the United States, said his clients in the Chicago class-action suit "have taken this action because the archdiocese has demonstrated to us woefully and sorrowfully for years and months and weeks that they can't or won't do what needs to be done under the law.

"They continue to keep secrets, they continue to protect the offenders, and as a result, the children remain at risk," Anderson said.

Earlier Tuesday, Jim Dwyer, a spokesman for the Chicago archdiocese, declined to comment on Anderson's lawsuit, saying that archdiocesan lawyers had not had a chance to fully review the allegations in the legal complaint.

Earlier molestation case

In 2004, archdiocesan officials said there were 55 priests with credible allegations of abuse of minors against them, but despite repeated requests from the media and victims' advocacy groups, they have refused to publish a complete list of the priests' names.

McCormack, 37, was charged Jan. 21 with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for allegedly fondling two boys at St. Agatha Church, where he was pastor. Archdiocesan officials learned of allegations against McCormack as early as 2000 when a nun reported his alleged misconduct with a fourth-grade student at Holy Family School, the nun told the Sun-Times.

The archdiocese also was aware of more allegations against the priest last August, when he was questioned by police and prosecutors but not charged with molesting an 8-year-old boy because authorities did not think they had sufficient evidence to press charges.

George attended an often tense parish-school meeting with members of St. Agatha on Monday night in North Lawndale. Since McCormack was criminally charged and several other allegations against him have come to light in the last week, "the cardinal has had an opportunity to review procedures involved in the handling of information involving priests and the issue of sexual misconduct with a minor," Dolan said.

"He had heard the voices of those who came to talk to him at St. Agatha's. Based on these personal reflections and conversations, the cardinal has asked his administrative staff to review the status of any current allegation.

"One case of a priest in monitoring has been identified. This case is currently before the Independent Review Board [of the archdiocese] for the sexual misconduct of a minor," she said.

The unnamed priest was removed earlier this week, Dolan said.


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