Abuse Suits against 2 Priests Dropped

By Bob Merrifield
Chicago Tribune
March 24, 1994

A Joliet man has dropped his allegations that he was sexually abused 13 years ago by two Will County priests.

Suits against Rev. David Stalzer and Rev. Lawrence Gibbs were dismissed after a man identified only as John Doe tried to withdraw his charges and refused to participate in court proceedings.

The man, now 29, had claimed he was sexually abused by Gibbs in 1981 while a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Lockport, where Gibbs was assigned at the time, and by Stalzer at St. Dennis Church in Lockport.

Will County Judge Herman Haase signed orders dismissing the suits with prejudice, meaning they cannot be refiled.

According to attorney Philip A. Troha, the man claimed he received therapy and counseling after the assaults by the two priests.

But two psychologists who the man said had treated him denied in court papers that they had ever seen the man, Troha said.

The accuser gave up, said his attorney, Keith Aeschliman, after deciding "he had enough.

"He was beat up to the point that he wanted to be done with it," Aeschliman said.

Still pending is a second, unrelated sex abuse case filed against Gibbs by Joseph Dittrick, 22, of Lockport, who claimed he was repeatedly sexually abused by Gibbs while he was associate pastor at St. Joseph and later while the youth attended a Catholic boarding school in Lemont. The attacks occurred over a seven-year period beginning in 1980, the suit alleges.


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