Priest Suspended over Sexual Assault Allegations

November 5, 2006

Chicago -- The Chicago Archdiocese has suspended another priest after sexual abuse allegations surface.

Father Robert Stepek, 51, who voluntarily removed himself this past May, was officially suspended Saturday by the archdiocese amid allegations he abused minors at Saint Symphorosa Church in the early 1980's.

The announcement was made at Saint Albert the Great Church in Burbank, where Stepek most recently worked.

"I don't believe any of it. Fr. Stepek has been one of the most perfect pastors I've ever seen in my life," said parishioner MaryLou Karmuda.

"If you believe in some sort of God or religion at all, it's just disheartening to hear stuff like this," said a male parishioner.

"He says he's never done it, he's never done anything like this," said Robert Stepek Sr., the priest's father.

He defended his son and called for the accuser to come forward publicly.

"Why are these people doing it, if it happened 20 years ago? They're only doing it for the monetary value," Robert Stepek Sr. said.

"That's a little much to ask," said Kate Bochte, with The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

Bochte said asking Stepek's accuser to go public might scare others from coming forward.

She said victims only usually speak up because they have one goal in mind.

"They do so probably not so much for themselves but for others to be protected, for the children," Bochte said.

NBC 5's Alex Perez reported that the Vatican will review the case, and Stepek will stay in a private setting away from the parish during that time.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.