Joliet Diocese Removes Two Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

By Bob Okon
Neighborhood Star
May 29, 2010,053010priests.article

Two Joliet Diocese priests were removed from the ministry last week amid allegations they sexually abused a student separately more than 30 years ago at Providence Catholic and Joliet Catholic high schools.

The former student has not been identified, and the priests have not been named by the diocese or in any legal action. The alleged victim is in his late 40s and lives in Florida.

The investigation was made public Friday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which held a news conference in Joliet to call for more aggressive action against the priests.

Afterward, the diocese issued a statement saying both priests had been removed from the ministry.

The alleged victim attended Providence Catholic in New Lenox and Joliet Catholic, now Joliet Catholic Academy, and while a student met the priests, who worked separately at the two schools. One of the priests allegedly abused the victim over several years in hotels, a rectory and on trips out of state, while the other priest was involved in a single incident, according to SNAP.

Five members of SNAP gathered outside of the Joliet chancery office Friday, urging the diocese to name the priests and ask any other victims to come forward.

"We're here to sound the alarm," SNAP president Barbara Blaine said.

Told later that the diocese had removed the priests from ministry, Blaine said, "It's about time. It should have happened in a day or two of the allegations coming to them."

SNAP said the alleged victim contacted the diocese April 24, saying he had been molested when he was a teen. An earlier contact may have been made by his mother, who was the first to contact the diocese about the allegations, according to the diocese.

The last interview with the alleged victim occurred May 15, and one of the priests was removed from ministry Tuesday, according to the diocese. It said more interviews were required in the second case, but "his priestly faculties have been suspended, and he has been removed from his assignment."

The diocese did not identify where the priests were serving. But Florida attorney Adam Horowitz, who represents the alleged victim, said diocese records show one priest still was serving in the diocese in a parish outside the Joliet area. The diocese extends through seven counties. The second priest no longer is believed to be serving in the diocese.

The alleged victim contacted police last week, Horowitz said, but details regarding any investigations weren't available Friday. He and his client have not discussed a lawsuit, the attorney said.

"His immediate goal is to have the priests punished, have them removed from the ministry and to protect other children," Horowitz said.

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