Man's Lawsuit States Priest Molested Him

By Chuck Salvatore
Southwest News-Herald
March 28, 2008

A Chicago man has filed a lawsuit against the Augustinians Province of Our Good Mother of Good Council, accusing a former St. Rita priest and a former choir director at the high school of molesting him.

John Johnson, 44, claims he was sexually molested from 1976 to '79 by the Rev. John D. Murphy and now deceased choir director Brother Mark Thedens.

The Augustinians Province released a statement saying they were regretful to learn of the lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

"The abuse of young people is an affront to our ministry everywhere and opposed to everything to which we profess and dedicate our lives. Along with the whole Church throughout the world, we cannot and will not tolerate such abuse," said the Rev. Jerome Knies, through a written statement.

The statement also said that their prayers "go out to all the people who have suffered and continue to suffer the pain of sexual abuse."

According to Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Murphy began molesting Johnson when he was in seventh and eighth grade at St. Rita parish.

Blaine then said Murphy was then transferred to St. Rita High School, and when Johnson was a freshman at the high school, he was again molested by Murphy.

"This predator molested the victim in his freshmen year again, but Johnson left St. Rita after his freshman year," said Blaine.

Murphy was also the defendant in a lawsuit filed in 2003 in which 13 other males accused Murphy of sexual molestation. According to Blaine, that case was settled.

Murphy was then kicked out of the Augustinian order after that, but the order wrote Murphy a letter of recommendation for a job at the Shedd Aquarium, according to Blaine. When the lawsuit became public in 2003, Blaine said the Shedd fired him.

"The people at the Shedd said that if they would have known about that, they never would have hired him for a position in which he had access to children," said Blaine.

Blaine said that there have been other people who have also accused Thedens. But she said most of those cases were settled as well.

Johnson came forward because he doesn't want other kids to be hurt the way he has been, Blaine said. She also said he has shown a lot of courage for doing so.

Johnson, added Blaine, also wants others to come forward if they have been abused.

"I think it is very difficult and painful to come out and admit this, especially for a man," said Blaine.


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