Deposition of Bishop from Joliet Diocese Released

ABC 7l
February 2, 2006

A DuPage County judge released a deposition of the bishop of the Joliet diocese Thursday. Bishop Joseph Imesch was being questioned regarding his handling of sexual abuse allegations involving priests.

This deposition was done as part of a lawsuit brought by a man claiming he was victimized by a priest years ago. Bishop Imesch gave this deposition in August of last year but it was sealed by the court until attorneys for an alleged victim and the press argued successfully for its release.

"With secrecy comes harm to children, with openness comes protection of children," said Marc Pearlman, Alleged Victim's Attorney.

The questioning of the bishop covered more than seven-and-a-half hours, including breaks.

During the deposition, an attorney for an alleged victims asks, "Tell us the occasions in which you have allowed priests to continue in ministry in or out of the Diocese after allegations of sexual misconduct have been made and deemed to have been credible."

Bishop Imesch responds, "I'm not certain that I can tell you all of them. I could probably tell you some of them. (He names three names) I'm not sure there were any others."

On Thursday, the man who is suing the diocese, alleging abuse spoke about the release of this document. He asked to have his identity disguised.

"The church has operated so long in secrecy. This begins the process of getting information out in public so parishioners, Catholic people can realize what's going on in the church," said the victim.

Later in the deposition, the lawyer asks the bishop, "It is correct to say that you knowingly continued priests in ministry until the charter required their removal and you knew that credible allegations had been made against those clergymen, correct?"

The bishop replied, "Yes. Yes."

But when the bishop is asked if he transferred an accused priest to another diocese without revealing that priest's background, the bishop firmly responds, "I will swear on oath on 50 Bibles that I would not send a priest to another bishop without letting him know his background."

"What we really need is an open process as the charter called for, but it hasnt been," said the victim.

An attorney for the Diocese of Joliet did not want to comment about the release of the deposition. The diocese also says the bishop is out of town and unavailable for comment.


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