Two Priests Abused Boy in '70s, Lawsuit Alleges

By Cathleen Falsani
Chicago Sun-Times
April 25, 2006

Lawyers for an Illinois man filed a lawsuit Monday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago over alleged sexual abuse the man says he suffered at the hands of two of its priests in the late 1970s.

The man, who is suing under the name "John Doe 106," says the Rev. Kenneth Ruge and the Rev. Robert C. Becker, both now deceased, sexually abused him on numerous occasions from 1976 to 1979, when the man was 9 to 12 years old.

Doe's attorney, Marc Pearlman, said Ruge, who died in 2002, and Becker, who died in 1989, repeatedly molested Doe at various locations in Illinois and out of state, including the rectory of St. Clement parish in Chicago, a Chicago health club, and a camper the two priests owned in Dixon, Ill.

Jim Dwyer, a spokesman for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the lawsuit Monday afternoon, saying archdiocesan officials had not yet seen it.

The abuse began for Doe when he was an altar boy at Divine Infant parish in Westchester, where Ruge was assigned as a priest, according to the lawsuit. Doe repressed memories of his alleged abuse until October 2003, according to the lawsuit.

'It was so premeditated'

Pearlman claims he knows of 10 adults who say they were abused by Ruge and Becker -- all but one of them say they were abused by both priests.

"It was so premeditated," Pearlman said. "It was usually that Ruge would get them first and then introduce them to Becker."

According to archdiocesan records, Ruge and Becker never worked at the same parish. Ruge, who was ordained in 1963, spent all of his nearly 30 years in the priesthood serving suburban parishes, including St. Rosalie in Harwood Heights, Holy Redeemer in Evergreen Park, St. Leonard in Berwyn and Divine Savior in Norridge.

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin removed Ruge from ministry in 1991 amid allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.

Becker, who was ordained in 1965, served parishes in Chicago only, including Queen of Martyrs, Our Lady of the Snows, St. Clement and St. Gertrude. Becker was a canon lawyer who served on the Metropolitan Tribunal, the church body that handles canon law cases, including annulments, until his death in 1989, according to archdiocesan records.

Becker's name is on an official list of priests with at least one substantiated allegation of abuse against them published by the archdiocese last month, but details of any allegation against Becker were not available late Monday, Dwyer said.


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