Lawsuit Says Former Pastor Abused Boy

By Kristen Wajda
Southwest News-Herald [Chicago IL]
April 20, 2006

A 24-year-old man who says he was sexually abused by a former St. Denis pastor filed a lawsuit last Thursday against the pastor and the Archdiocese of Chicago.

The plaintiff's attorney, Jeff Anderson, who is the lead lawyer for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said that the abuse occurred while the plaintiff was an altar boy at St. Denis Parish, 8301 S. St. Louis Ave., between 1994 and 1996.

The defendant, James Hagan, now 59, was pastor of the parish.

The plaintiff, identified in the suit as John Doe 105, was just 13 and 14 years old at the time the alleged abuse occurred.

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff was forced on multiple occasions to perform sexual acts on Hagan both in the church and inside the school.

"Hagan was physically very intimidating," said Anderson. "Hagan, in a corporal punishment kind of way, forced the child to perform oral sex on him."

The suit also alleges that the Archdiocese knew of previous accusations against Hagan but still allowed him to continue his priestly duties, which often required extensive interaction with children.

It also accuses the Archdiocese of failing to tell authorities about the allegations against Hagan.

"Defendant Archdiocese had been apprised of Hagan's pedophiliac behavior and sexual abuse of young boys prior to the time that Hagan was assigned to St. Denis... but failed to act on that knowledge," the suits says.

"We always told authorities about any allegation since 1992 and even allegations prior to 1992," said Archdiocese spokesperson Jim Dwyer.

Hagan served at the Ashburn parish from 1989 to 1996.

The lawsuit also alleges that the Archdiocese attempted to cover up Hagan's pedophiliac activities by transferring him to different parishes.

Hagan was ordained in 1974 and served at St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Parish in Oak Park from 1974 to 1981; as an associate pastor at St. Richard Parish, 5032 S. Kostner Ave., from 1982 to 1986; as an associate pastor at St. Gertrude Parish, 1420 W. Granville Ave., in 1987 and 1988; and, finally, as pastor of St. Denis.

Anderson said that he has represented three other victims of Hagan's who are now 45, 43 and 33 years old. Two of the cases occurred while Hagan served at St. Catherine, and the third happened while he was at St. Richard.

"Hagan was probably moved (from parish to parish) because of the accusations, but we don't know that for sure," said Anderson.

Dwyer said that only one accusation was brought forward against Hagan before 1992 and that the accusation was deemed unfounded by the Department of Children and Family Services.

Dwyer did acknowledge, however, that post-1992, other lawsuits may have been brought forward against Hagan but said that he did not have immediate access to those records.

Hagan was placed on administrative leave in 1996 and resigned from St. Denis that same year.

In 1997, he resigned from the priesthood.

A search of Hagan's current address in Berwyn turned up no telephone listing.


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