The Ousted Priests

Chicago Sun-Times
May 12, 2002

Rev. Gary Berthiaume, 60: Received a six-month prison sentence in 1978 for sexually abusing 12- and 13-year-old brothers in Our Lady of Sorrows parish in Farmington Hills, Mich. A lawsuit brought by the boys' family was settled for $35,000. Berthiaume also settled for an undisclosed amount a suit by four boys who accused him of sexually abusing them at a Wyandotte, Mich., parish from 1968 to 1973. In the Joliet diocese since 1987, Berthiaume served as a chaplain at Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove until being removed April 8.

Rev. Phillip Dedera, 57: Stands accused of sexual misconduct in the 1970s by a man now in his 40s. For four years, until his removal last month, Dedera served as a chaplain at Edward Hospital and St. Patrick's Residence nursing home, both in Naperville. The Joliet diocese suspended Dedera April 12.

Rev. Caroll Howlin, 67: Stands accused of sexually abusing a man, now in his 40s, during a camping trip in Wisconsin in the 1970s. Ordained a priest of the Joliet diocese, Howlin has served as a missionary priest in rural Kentucky since 1977. The parents of another man also have complained to Imesch that their son was abused by Howlin at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Romeoville and in Kentucky in the 1970s. On April 14, the Joliet diocese said Imesch had suspended Howlin, who lives in Kentucky.

Rev. Anthony J. Ross, 56: Served at St. John the Baptist parish in Winfield; the Cathedral of St. Raymond, the seat of the Joliet diocese, and St. Peter the Apostle in Itasca. In 1982, he was removed from the Itasca parish and sent for therapy in California for having had what was termed inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor. Ross returned to the Joliet diocese after less than a year of treatment and went on to serve at Sacred Heart parish in Lombard, St. Isidore in Bloomingdale and St. Charles Borromeo in Bensenville. A Joliet area man in his 30s says Ross molested him twice at St. Peter's in 1981. In 1993, when the man's parents discovered Ross was still serving in the Joliet diocese and confronted Imesch, Ross transferred to the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Calif., where he served as a prison chaplain until being placed on leave April 17. The Santa Rosa diocese said it was never told about Ross' past.

Rev. Fred Lenczycki, 57: Accused in 1984 of molesting nine boys at St. Isaac Jogues parish in Hinsdale. No charges were filed. But, in a 1997 civil lawsuit, a man said the priest abused him in the rectory of the Hinsdale church. Lenczycki received treatment and therapy, church officials said. Since 1992, Lenczycki has been a hospital chaplain in St. Louis. The St. Louis archdiocese said it first learned of his past in late March and then asked that he be returned to the Joliet diocese, which removed him from ministry April 24.

Rev. Anthony Meis, 65: Was pastor of Saints Mary and Joseph parish in Chebanse, Ill., from 1988 to 1994, but resigned when allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor surfaced. Joliet officials said the allegation had been "reported and resolved." In late 1994, Meis began serving as a chaplain at St. Anthony Hospital in St. Louis. Meis resigned from his ministry April 24 and lives outside St. Louis.

Rev. Donald Pock, 69: Founding pastor of Divine Savior Church in Downers Grove and pastor of St. Peter parish in Itasca since 1987, was placed on administrative leave May 5 after an allegation made in April about sexual misconduct with a minor more than 25 years ago. Pock is living in "a safe place where he poses no risk to children," a Joliet diocese official said.

Rev. John F. Barrett, 69: Pastor of Mary Queen of Heaven in Elmhurst since 1996, was placed on administrative leave this month while Joliet diocese officials reviewed an accusation leveled against him in 1991 by a man, now 47, about alleged abuse 34 years ago at Notre Dame school in Clarendon Hills. Barrett says he is falsely accused.

Rev. Edward Poff, 71: Now retired, was accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1994. Church authorities said they substantiated the allegation, and Poff was sent to therapy, then reassigned to restricted ministry as a hospital chaplain at St. Mary's Hospital in Kankakee. Poff retired in 2001, but occasionally helped out at St. Patrick and other Joliet parishes. On May 5, the Joliet diocese, citing the previously substantiated claims of abuse, said he could serve only in restricted capacity.

Rev. Lowell Fischer, 78: First faced allegations of sexual misconduct in Hawaii, where he moved in 1975. While running a mission in Hawaii, he was named in a sex-abuse lawsuit that was later dropped. In 1993, Fischer returned to Joliet, was placed on restricted ministry and assigned to St. Francis Convent in Frankfort, where his duties consisted mostly of celebrating mass for retired nuns. A new allegation of abuse against him was made in April. On May 5, the Joliet diocese announced he could no longer celebrate mass.


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