'Father Dan Took Advantage'
Priest Accused of Molesting Three Boys Released on Bond

By Frank Main and Stefano Esposito
Daily Southtown [Tinley Park IL]
February 3, 2006

An 11-year-old boy who lives a stone's throw from St. Agatha Church earned pocket money by shoveling snow, raking leaves and making grocery runs for the Rev. Daniel McCormack.

The priest paid him cash — normally $5 — for his services. And when they were alone in the West Side church's rectory, McCormack reached into the child's pants and fondled him, the boy's mother said in an interview.

"My son would say, 'Why did you do that?' And Father Dan said, 'To see how big your private part is.' "

McCormack was in court Thursday on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse involving the 11-year-old. He already faces charges of abusing two other children, one as recently as January 2005.

The 11-year-old told authorities the abuse started Oct. 25, 2004, and lasted until Dec. 31, 2005 — four months after the Archdiocese of Chicago appointed a monitor to ensure McCormack didn't have contact with children.

The 11-year-old, who attends a public school on the West Side, has a 14-year-old brother who also ran errands for McCormack, but he told investigators he wasn't abused, said their mother, who has six children, ages 3 to 16.

McCormack usually paid the 11-year-old boy $5 for the errands but once paid $10, the mother said. Her 14-year-old son received $25 grocery gift cards for his efforts, she said.

"They're not bad kids," the mother said. "They try to help out to make money instead of selling drugs. ... I can't believe Father Dan took advantage of my son."

The 11-year-old met McCormack through children attending an after-school program at St. Agatha, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Kathy Muldoon said during the bond hearing. The boy offered to do chores for McCormack, who then invited the child into the church rectory where the fondling happened, Muldoon said.

The priest lied about his identity to child welfare workers who recently went to his house to make sure he was complying with a court order not to have contact with kids, Muldoon said. During a follow-up visit, McCormack gave his true name to the workers, she said.

McCormack, 37, appeared in court Thursday in a navy blue Notre Dame hooded sweat shirt, black pants and white tennis shoes. He was released after his family posted $300,000 bail.

After the hearing, his attorney Patrick Reardon lashed out, saying he felt his client is the subject of a witch hunt. "I've never felt so close to Salem, Mass., in my life," Reardon said.

Reardon had particularly harsh words for the advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents the 11-year-old.

"All I see is (SNAP founder) Barbara Blaine and her little crowd of complainers out there, and the next thing I see is this carpetbagger lawyer from Minneapolis trying to tell the cardinal how to run the diocese," Reardon said.

The mother of the 11-year-old said she asked the boy Sunday if he'd been abused. Her son acknowledged he was fondled, and she called SNAP, she said. Anderson contacted authorities about the boy's claims. The mother said she accompanied her son Monday to the Child Advocacy Center, where Chicago police and the state's attorney's office interviewed him for about eight hours.

Despite the allegations, the mother said her 11-year-old son doesn't appear to be traumatized. "He is still himself."


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