Nationally Known Attorney Takes Case against Diocese

By Geri Nikolai
Rockford Register Star [Illinois]
February 17, 2006

A nationally known attorney famous for taking on the Catholic Church has become co-counsel for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Rockford Diocese.

The suit was filed in 2004 against the diocese and priest Mark Campobello by two young women in Kane County. Campobello had been found guilty there of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against them in 1999 and 2000, when they were minors.

The women were represented by lawyer Keith Aeschliman of Joliet, but he is resigning, and the case recently was handed over to Jeffrey R. Anderson of Minneapolis and Michael Brooks of Kerns, Pitrof, Frost and Pearlman in Chicago. Both have handled dozens of suits against the Catholic Church, mostly over allegations of sexual abuse by priests.

The case, seeking more than $50,000 for each of the women, accuses the diocese of negligence for failing to evaluate Campobello's suitability for working with adolescents. At the time of the offenses, he was assistant principal and spiritual director at a Catholic high school in Aurora and on staff at a church in Geneva.

To date, wrangling in the case has centered on church documents sought by Aeschliman. The lawyer had asked for records of Campobello and files on about 30 other allegations made against priests. A Kane County judge has decided to give the plaintiffs portions from two of the files and will hear comments March 16 from lawyers on that decision. Then the suit moves into the discovery phase, in which lawyers take statements from people involved and gather information.

Campobello, who was stripped of priestly duties when he was arrested in December 2002, was sentenced to eight years in prison in May 2004. He will be eligible in about two years to request parole.

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