Woman Claims Fitzmaurice Fathered Her Child in 1979
Four More Men Join Lawsuit against Former Phillips Priest
By Patti Wenzel
The-Bee [Phillips WI]
May 17, 2007
The list of plaintiffs suing Fr. Terrence Fitzmaurice for sexual abuse has grown by five, including a woman who alleges the priest raped her in 1979 and fathered her now 27-year-old son.
Fitzmaurice served St. Patrick's & St. Mary's Catholic churches, and later Our Lady of the North Catholic Church, in Phillips, from 1987–2000.
There have been no formal allegations filed with local authorities alleging any misconduct on Fitzmaurice's part while he served the congregations in Phillips.
In documents filed with the United States District Court of Northern Illinois, Seattle attorney Philip Aaron is seeking to amend the original complaint of sexual abuse, battery, fraud, and racial discrimination against Fitzmaurice, Abbot Dismas Kalick, Cardinal Francis George, St. Procopius Abbey, The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, the Order of St. Benedict and the city of Chicago.
The original complainants are Perry Collins and his mother, Doris Thomas. Collins alleges Fitzmaurice took him to a building adjacent to St. Procopius Church on the south side of Chicago when he was 10-years-old and assaulted him. The alleged events occurred in the early 1970's.
The amended complaint includes an affidavit by Venitta Sample. Sample claims she was raped by Fitzmaurice in late 1978 when she was 14 years old and a student at St. Procopius Catholic Grade School.
She claims she is positive of her child's paternity, stating that she had no other sexual contact at the time, except with Fitzmaurice.
The child was born in the summer of 1979.
Sample's portion of the lawsuit requests that a judge order DNA testing of Fitzmaurice to establish paternity in addition to seeking damages.
Sample said at the time of the alleged rape, her father and grandmother had recently died and she, her five siblings and mother were struggling to make ends meet. She said Fitzmaurice allegedly used his position of trust to lure her into situations where he was able to assault her.
Aaron and attorneys for the defendants issued a joint statement acknowledging the seriousness of the claims made by Sample and that they are working together to come to an agreement regarding the situation.
The remaining plaintiffs - Dervin Frazier, Willie Evans, Dennis Wright and Berna Matlock, all gave descriptions similar to Collins' about their encounters with Fitzmaurice.
All five of the men allege they met Fitzmaurice in the early 1970's when the priest was assigned to St. Procopius Church in Chicago and serving as the director of then Mayor Richard Daley's Summer Youth Employment Program.
The men were between the ages of 11 and 14 years of age when they encountered the priest.
Each man claims Fitzmaurice lied about their ages so he could place them on the youth employment payroll. While they did limited work, all five recount being invited to the "club house," just as Collins claims.
The "club house" contained games and activities such as pool and ping pong. Each plaintiff describes Fitzmaurice as rubbing their bodies with an electric hand massager while inside the "club house."
The men also allege Fitzmaurice forced them to perform oral sex and allow the priest to do the same to them.
The men all claim Fitzmaurice used his position to convince them that the sexual activity was "natural" and to keep the relationships a secret.
All five men claim to have suffered emotional and psychological problems due to the alleged abuse, including undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorders, substance abuse and criminal activity.
The suit further alleges Abbot Kalick, Cardinal George, the Archdiocese, Abbey, Order and city all knew of Fitzmaurice's dangerous desires and unfitness to serve as a priest. However, none of the defendants did anything to protect the public from Fitzmaurice.
Additionally, the other defendants allegedly allowed Fitzmaurice to use federal employment and church funds to continue his illegal behavior and then used the funds themselves to cover-up their knowledge of Ftizmaurice's crimes.
While the suit does not name a specific amount for damages, it does ask for damages, triple damages; injunctive relief, costs, interest, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just and fair.
Federal law allows the plaintiff to amend their complaint once after its initial filing. The original lawsuit was filed Jan. 27.
A hearing on a motion to allow the new plaintiffs, including Sample, was scheduled before Judge Joan Lefkow on May 15 to hear arguments from both sides.
In November 2006, the Archdiocese and the Order of St. Benedict agreed to pay a six-figure settlement with three other men who claimed to have been molested by Fitzmaurice during his service in Chicago.
Fitzmaurice has not been charged criminally in the current or previous allegations.
After Fitzmaurice's service in Phillips, he returned to St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Ill. Officials at the abbey said the priest is in poor health and living in a nursing home in northern Illinois.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.