Suits Citing Clergy Abuse Withdrawn

By Michael Miller and Andy Kravetz
Journal Star [Peoria IL]
February 2, 2006

PEORIA - Four lawsuits alleging clergy sexual abuse against several Roman Catholic priests and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria have been withdrawn but could be refiled within a year.

The lawsuits were filed Nov. 30 in Peoria County Circuit Court against the priests, their churches at the time of the alleged abuse, religious orders and the diocese.

Fred Nessler of Springfield, attorney for the plaintiffs, said voluntary dismissal of the suits was taken last week in light of a recent 3rd District Appellate Court ruling. He is seeking to get five other lawsuits alleging clergy sexual abuse dismissed as well with a one-year window to refile, but a judge hadn't signed off on those cases as of Wednesday.

Nessler said another effort at negotiating a settlement with the diocese would be made. If that doesn't work, the suits "will be refiled."

Diocesan Chancellor and attorney Patricia Gibson said Tuesday, "The diocese will offer counseling to victims of abuse." She and Bishop Daniel Jenky made statements shortly after the lawsuits were filed that appear to rule out monetary settlements in abuse cases. Both said then that counseling is the "only way for authentic healing to occur" and that protection of diocesan assets must be considered.

The appellate ruling addresses the statute of limitations for filing such lawsuits. Nessler said he wanted to study what impact the ruling may have on the lawsuits.

Reporter Mike Miller can be reached at 686-3106, or at Reporter Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or at


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