Lawsuit the Latest in Series against Joliet Diocese Priests

June 29, 2012

New allegations of sexual abuse are the latest in a series of claims regarding priests from the Diocese of Joliet.

In 2006, the diocese had 15 abuse lawsuits pending in Will and DuPage counties.

The latest allegations are being leveled at a former priest from the diocese already accused of molesting several young boys in the 1970s.

A spokesman said the diocese had no comment on the latest accusations against Lawrence Gibbs.

In Will County Circuit Court this week, Terence Breen sued Gibbs and the diocese. He claims Gibbs gave several young boys alcohol and pornography during a retreat at a Wisconsin cabin in 1977 and had them play games, swim and perform other activities naked.

And he said Gibbs took him into a cabin bedroom to molest him in 1978.

Gibbs already has been a defendant in three civil lawsuits alleging he sexually abused two boys from Lombard and one from Lockport while serving as a parish priest in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were settled in the late 1990s for undisclosed sums. No criminal charges were filed.

Reports said Gibbs has not been a priest for some time and lives outside the area but is still alive. Breenís attorney believed Gibbs was dead and named his estate in the lawsuit.

In May 2010, two pastors in diocese parishes outside the Joliet area were removed from their ministries after the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests publicized allegations made by a man who was a Catholic school student in the 1970s.

In 2004, Fred Lenczycki received a prison term and psychiatric confinement for fondling three young boys while serving at a Hinsdale church in 1984. Thirteen years later, Lenczycki was sued in Will County for the alleged abuse of nine altar boys at St. Isaac Jogues. The Joliet Diocese settled the lawsuit a year later for an undisclosed amount of money.

Two men have sued James Burnett for allegedly abusing altar boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena. The diocese initially said one victimís claims werenít credible but reversed that decision several years later and offered a settlement.

Another priest from St. Mary, William Virtue, also was sued for abuse. That case also was dismissed, but the diocese also reportedly found those accusations credible.








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