$6.65M to Settle Sex Claims
One of Them Involves Ex-Lake Forest Priest

By Judy Masterson
News Sun [Lake Forest IL]
May 30, 2007,5_1_WA30_PRIEST_S1.article

Attorneys representing 14 people allegedly abused by Chicago-area Catholic priests said Tuesday they've reached $6.65 million in settlements with the Archdiocese of Chicago.

One of the 10 priests named in the sexual abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese served as associate pastor of St. Mary Church in Lake Forest.

Brian Wolff accused Rev. Robert Mayer of forcing him and other altar boys at St. Mary's to "engage in deviant sexual behavior -- everything from oral sex to anal sex, according to the suit, filed by four men in Cook County nearly a year ago.

Wolff, who claims Mayer molested him in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said the priest enticed boys by starting off casual, inviting them to play basketball and "hang out."

"And then his behavior became more and more inappropriate," said Wolff, 40, who added that he has suffered drug and alcohol addiction as a result of the abuse.

Another plaintiff, Edward Mazurek, stated Mayer orchestrated a "subculture of privileged altar boys," plying them with pornography and alcohol. He said Mayer masturbated in front of them and molested them individually and that he also took groups of boys to his house in Fox Lake, where he once attempted to strip a boy of his bathing suit.

Mazurek claims Mayer began abusing him when he was 12, at St. Edna Parish in Arlington Heights, and that the abuse lasted nearly a decade.

The suit, which also alleged that the archdiocese ignored complaints that Mayer was abusing children while moving him between seven different parishes, stated that during his seminary training, Mayer, who was ordained in 1964, was dubbed "Satan" by fellow seminarians and wrote his master's thesis on masturbation.

Now 68, Mayer left the priesthood in 1994 after a 1992 conviction for abusing a 13-year-old girl.

Mayer was the only priest named in the suit to have served a Lake County parish, said Susan Burritt, direction of media relations for the archdiocese.

The settlements were reached between March 2006 and March 2007 and cover lawsuits filed against 12 current and former priests for abuse that allegedly occurred from the 1960s to the early 1990s, Minnesota attorney Jeffrey Anderson said.

Burritt said all the priests named in the settlements have been removed from public ministry or are deceased.

"The Archdiocese of Chicago takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously," she said.

The settlements, which have been paid, do not apply to a suit Anderson filed last year asking the Archdiocese of Chicago to release secret files on priests accused of abuse. That suit still is pending.

Burritt said the Archdiocese traditionally has paid settlements using insurance money or by selling unused real estate.


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