Well-known Catholic Priest Faces Sexual Abuse Allegations

By Jake Miller
April 15, 2011,0,3469640.story

A Catholic priest known to many as the race track reverend now faces accusations of sexually abusing a child. A man has filed a lawsuit claiming the priest also tried to buy his silence.

Father Philip DeRea has been the Catholic Chaplain for the Indy Racing League since 1971 and an associate of many celebrities including race car legend Mario Andretti and actor and former team owner the late Paul Newman. He even performed the wedding ceremony for Dario Franchitti and actress Ashley Judd.

Now, he's accused of luring an 11-year-old into a long-term sexual relationship back in 1980.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Northern Illinois contains graphic details of their relationship which began when the alleged victim offered to shovel DeRea's walk. According to the complaint, the now 40 year old man had repressed the memories of the sexual abuse, which lasted for approximately eight years.

The man claims DeRea used his association with celebrities and the racing world to make the plaintiff feel honored to have a connection with him. He says the abuse stopped when he graduated high school, but he maintained contact with DeRea and even had the priest baptize his two children. A 'minor incident' involving his son in 2006 prompted a flood of memories' about the sexual abuse, according to the complaint.

The man says he contacted DeRea by email last year and that DeRea responded with apologies for quote "my misconduct" and according to the complaint, DeRea sent a few thousand dollars while urging him to "keep all quiet." Later, DeRea’s lawyer said the payments were rooted in their "friendship" and offered $35,000 to release all claims.

FOX59 News has tried to reach officials with the Indy Racing League for comment, but they've not yet gotten back to us.


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