Priest Sexually Abused Boy from Salesian School in 1975, Attorney Says
By Sarah Reese
November 12, 2014
|A New York priest took a boy from the former Salesian Preparatory Academy in Cedar Lake to Rome and sexually abused the child in 1975, an attorney said. The Salesian property, which has been a source of local legend for decades, has stood largely vacant since the school closed in 1979.|
A New York priest convicted Wednesday in Massachusetts of raping a boy multiple times in 1981 and 1982 also abused a Cedar Lake boy in 1975, the victims' attorney said.
The Rev. Richard McCormick, 73, was convicted Wednesday of five counts of child rape in connection with crimes that occurred while the Massachusetts boy attended a summer camp at the Salesian Brothers' Sacred Heart retreat center in Ipswich, Mass., where McCormick worked, prosecutors said.
McCormick was assigned to the Salesian Preparatory School in Cedar Lake from about 1972 to 1976, said attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents both victims. The school closed in 1979.
In 1975, McCormick took a then 14-year-old boy from Cedar Lake on a trip to Rome, where McCormick sexually abused the boy, Garabedian said.
McCormick never faced criminal charges in the case linked to Cedar Lake, he said.
Garabedian said he asked federal prosecutors about five years ago to look into criminal charges in that case, but federal child trafficking laws at the time applied only to females. The law has since been changed.
The Salesians settled "in the six figures" after he sent the order a claim on behalf of the Cedar Lake victim, he said.
Garabedian said he represents 16 of McCormick's alleged victims and that McCormick abused them in several states and Rome from 1963 to 1994.
Garabedian said he wasn't aware of any other victims from McCormick's time in Cedar Lake, but it's possible they haven't come forward.
Anyone who believes they may be a victim of clergy sexual abuse should contact their local police and an attorney with experience in clergy sex abuse cases, Garabedian said. It's also important for victims to obtain therapy, he said.
"The injury and trauma suffered by a person who has been a victim of sexual abuse is continuing and ongoing," he said.
The Salesians are a large Catholic order of priests and brothers who have their main headquarters in Goshen, N.Y., he said. What's significant about McCormick is that he served as provincial of the order from about 1986 to 1991, he said.
"He was in charge of thousands of priests, religious brothers and employees," Garabedian said.
The Diocese of Gary must give permission for any priest to work within its boundaries, he said.
"Background checks, screening processes and continued diligence and supervision must be put in place so that innocent children are protected from the evils of sexual child abuse," he said.
The Salesian property in Cedar Lake has long been a source of local legend. One story is that the property, which has sat largely vacant for 30 years, is haunted by children who were killed by a psychotic Salesian priest shortly before the school closed in 1979.
Former Cedar Lake Police Chief Roger Patz told The Times in 2009 that none of the stories about the site off Cline Avenue on Cedar Lake's north side are true. Patz, who was a member of the school's final graduating class, said then that the only thing unusual about the school was its staunch commitment to academic excellence.
The victim in in the Massachusetts case, who is now 44 years old, was between 10 and 12 when the abuse occurred, prosecutors said. McCormick is scheduled to be sentenced for those crimes Dec. 18.
He's also facing a separate child rape count in connection with allegations made by another male victim who attended the Ipswich summer camp, prosecutors said. A trial date in that case has not yet been set.
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