2 Women Sue Chicago Archdiocese, Priest

By Jeff Long
Chicago Breaking News
May 10, 2009

Two women have filed a federal lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and a retired priest over abuse they allegedly suffered about 40 years ago, and today their lawyer and other victim advocates urged a quick settlement because one of them is dying of cancer.

"Her case has not been settled because the archdiocese refuses to do so," said Seattle lawyer Phillip Aaron during a news conference across the street from Holy Name Cathedral at State and Superior on Sunday morning.

An archdiocese spokeswoman on Sunday was surprised that a lawsuit had been filed in the cases involving the priest, Anthony Vader, who was removed from public ministry in 2003 when church officials acknowledged his misconduct.

"The case has been in mediation since December," said Colleen Dolan, director of communications for the archdiocese. "Are they saying mediation is over? We haven't canceled any mediation appointments. We're anxious to meet and continue mediation."

Dolan said she could not comment on specifics of the lawsuit, filed late Friday in U.S. District Court, because archdiocese officials have not yet seen it.

The plaintiffs are 58-year-old women who attended the now-closed St. Laurence catholic school in Chicago. Vader was pastor of the St. Laurence parish from 1964 until 1968. From 1968 until 1998, Vader was a priest at Holy Name of Mary Church in Morgan Park, which was founded to serve African Americans.

Vader has been in a "monitored, restricted setting" since his removal from public ministry by the archdiocese, Dolan said.

One woman claims she was molested by Vader from the time she was 9 until about 14, which has caused her to suffer "nervous breakdowns, post traumatic stress, anxiety, and other emotional and psychological problems," according to the lawsuit.

The second woman was abused by Vader when she was younger than 13, and again when she was 17, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also accuses the archdiocese of treating African American victims of abuse differently than non African American victims.

"Dissimilar treatment includes ... the imposition of a higher burden of proof in regard to the abuse," the lawsuit alleges.

Dolan said that allegation is false.

"Their innocence was shattered," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, during the news conference. "Their childhood was robbed."


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