$12.7M Settlement in 16 Sex-abuse Cases

By Frank Abderholden
Lake County News-Sun

August 13, 2008,5_1_WA13_PRIESTS_S1.article

[with list of all accused priests involved in the settlement]

Three priests had Lake County ties

Three of the 11 priests involved in a $12.7 million sex abuse settlement announced Tuesday by the Archdiocese of Chicago had ties to Lake County.

And two of the 16 known abuse victims were from St. Mary's Church in Lake Forest.

    The three local priests are:

  • Robert E. Mayer, who was ordained in 1964 and served as associate pastor at St. Mary's Church in Lake Forest from 1976 to 1981. He resigned in 1994.

  • James R. Steel, who was ordained 1968 and served at St. James Church in Highwood from 1969 to 1974. He resigned in 1992.

  • Norbert Maday, ordained in 1964, who was convicted in Wisconsin and was removed from the ministry in 1993. He tried to get released from a Wisconsin prison so he could live with his mother in Waukegan. He was not released from prison, and his mother died in 1997.

"He finished his sentence, but officials kept him in a mental health facility," said Barbara Blaine, national president of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

"The interesting thing about that case was that Cardinal (Francis) George, in his deposition, repeatedly tried to get him released from prison. Thankfully, Cardinal George didn't succeed and now he acknowledges that it was not a good practice," she said.

"No single check magically erases years of cover-up and insensitivity and recklessness and deceit and posturing by church officials," she said in a prepared statement.

"Nor does a check magically restore the shattered trust, stolen childhoods, and devastated psyches of dozens of victims of predatory priests and complacent bishops," she said. "These courageous victims are the ones who deserve praise today."

Blaine said the civil settlement does not address the root causes of the abuse and the cover-up, which is the virtually unchecked power of the rigid, secretive, self-serving, all-male hierarchy of the church. It also does not put any of the dangerous predators -- or those who covered up for them -- behind bars.

Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, apologized to the survivors, their families and Chicago-area Catholics in announcing the settlement. The settlements were reached through a mediation process in which George gave a deposition.

Chancellor Jimmy Lago said the archdiocese is releasing the deposition, the first time it has done so, in an attempt at openness. That 500-page deposition is on the archdiocese's Web site at .

George said Tuesday that the entire Catholic church was ''certainly wounded'' by sex-abuse scandals. "How greatly, I don't know," he said.

"My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their families begin to heal and move forward," George said.

"I apologize again today to the survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community. We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the children in our care," he said.

All of the survivors in this settlement were represented by the law firms of Jeff Anderson and Associates of St. Paul, Minn. and Kerns, Frost and Pearlman of Chicago. has more information on child abuse by priests.

One of the victims, Therese Albrecht, said she was about 8 years old when she was repeatedly raped and sodomized by the Rev. Joseph R. Bennett, a priest at St. John De La Salle on Chicago's South Side. She said she did not report the abuse until she was an adult, and then felt that the archdiocese did not believe her. Bennett was removed from the ministry in 2006, about two years after Albrecht came forward.

"Today is not a happy, joyous day for me," Albrecht told the Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that she has been in therapy and at one point was suicidal. "I'm very grateful I survived this. I didn't think I would."

Lago said the Chicago archdiocese has paid $65 million to settle about 250 claims in the past 30 years. Mediation continues in about a couple dozen more cases, he said.

Abusive priests

    The priests involved in the abuse settlement are:

  • Robert C. Becker, who died in 1989.

  • Joseph R. Bennett, who was removed from the ministry in 2006.

  • Robert Craig, who resigned in 1993.

  • James C. Hagan, who resigned in 1997.

  • Thomas F. Kelly, who died in 1990.

  • Norbert Maday, who is in a Wisconsin prison.

  • Robert E. Mayer, who resigned in 1994.

  • Daniel J. McCormack, who was removed from the ministry in 2006 and is in prison.

  • Joseph Owens, who resigned in 1970.

  • Kenneth C. Ruge, who died in 2002.

  • James Steel, who resigned in 1992.



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