Priest Who Lived Here Accused of Abuse Ex-Altar Boys Accuse Priest of Abuse

By Cathleen Falsani
Chicago Sun-Times
May 16, 2002

A Roman Catholic priest who spent about 15 years in the Chicago area is being sued in Miami by two former altar boys who say he repeatedly molested them, beginning in 1976, at his home in Fort Lauderdale, on overnight trips and during a cross-country trip to Chicago in 1978.

The lawsuit filed this week targeted the Rev. Ronald John Luka, 65. From 1984 to 1999, Luka, a Claretian Missionary priest, listed his official address as the Claretian provincial house on North Euclid in Oak Park, said Jim Dwyer, a spokesman for the Chicago archdiocese. From 1980 to 1981, Luka also served as a resident priest at Our Lady of Ransom parish in Niles.

Neither the Claretian religious order nor the Chicago archdiocese could say for sure Wednesday where else in the Chicago area Luka might have worked during the time he lived in Oak Park.

But no allegations of abuse involving Luka have surfaced from the time he worked in the Chicago area, Dwyer said.

Luka, ordained in 1963, has never been a parish priest, said Richard Leamy, an attorney for the Claretian Missionaries order. Luka was "an itinerant preacher," Leamy said, traveling the country.

The first "credible" allegations against Luka surfaced in 1999, while he was living in Oak Park, but involved accusations of sexual misconduct more than 20 years ago "on the East Coast," Leamy said.

When the allegations were made in 1999, the Claretians removed Luka from ministry and sent the priest to St. Luke's Institute in Maryland for evaluation, he said.

After his treatment at St. Luke's, Luka was permanently removed from any public ministry by his religious order. "We have him in a custodial situation in the state of Missouri," Leamy said.

Luka has an address in Robertsville, Mo., that's listed to the Wounded Brothers Project, a kind of halfway house for priests trying to deal with pedophilia, alcoholism or mental disorders.

The 1999 allegations did not involve the two former altar boys who sued Luka this week in Florida, Leamy said.

"As for the lawsuit in Miami, we were never made aware of any allegations at any time that form the basis of that lawsuit," Leamy said. "However, we express our deepest sympathy, if the allegations are true, to the victims."


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