|2 Women Sue Archdiocese for Alleged Sex Abuse
By Manya A. Brachear
August 3, 2011
Two women filed separate lawsuits against the Chicago Archdiocese on Tuesday, alleging they were sexually abused in the 1950s by a priest at St. Peter Damian Catholic Church in Bartlett.
In the suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Patricia Vestey and Kathryn Joan Ebeling, both in their 60s, say they repressed memories of abuse at the hands of the Rev. Thomas Barry Horne for several decades. It wasn't until they learned that others had accused Horne of abuse that their recollections began to surface, the suit said. Horne retired in 1973 and has since died.
Frederic Nessler, the Springfield attorney representing both women, said the archdiocese refused to settle out of court.
"Unfortunately, the Chicago diocese heretofore has said they take a very pastoral outreach view toward cases, " Nessler said. "Their pastoral urgings have dried up, which I find horribly hypocritical."
John O'Malley, an attorney for the archdiocese, said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment.
But O'Malley acknowledged the archdiocese made attempts to resolve the matter out of court. He said the women were offered counseling, but not financial compensation.
"We are aware of a claim of abuse that allegedly occurred many, many years ago," O'Malley said. "There are no records or files or witnesses to these events that can bring light to it. Nevertheless, we didn't turn people away."
"But [besides counseling], under the circumstances, we didn't think there was anything more we could do," he said.
Vestey alleges that Horne touched her inappropriately beginning when she was 6 years old. Ebeling alleges that she was abused by Horne beginning when she was 4 and that the priest shared his sexual fantasies with her, then asked her to repeat them in the confessional.
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