Second Lawsuit Filed against Joliet Diocese

By Teresa Mask
Chicago Daily Herald
September 10, 2002

The Joliet Diocese has been hit with a second civil lawsuit alleging abuse by one of its priests, and the lawyer filing the papers says at least nine more suits are planned.

The lawsuit, filed Monday with the Will County Circuit Court, alleges the Rev. Lawrence Mullins, 55, sexually molested five plaintiffs when they were minors and he was associate pastor at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet between 1977 and 1987.

After leaving St. Raymond, Mullins served at Immaculate Conception Church in Elmhurst and St. Margaret Mary in Naperville until 1993 when was removed because of old abuse allegations, said lawyer Keith M. Aeschliman, who filed Monday's lawsuit.

Aeschliman said none of those allegations were from Mullins' time in Elmhurst or Naperville.

But he said he expects another lawsuit to be filed against Mullins soon because Aeschliman has been in contact with others who say they are victims.

Monday's lawsuit named as defendants Joliet's Bishop Joseph Imesch, as trustee for the Diocese of Joliet Trust, and Mullins. Neither Imesch nor Mullins could be reached for comment Monday.

Mullins now lives in Virginia where he works as vice president of industry development for International Electrical Contractors, Aeschliman said.

A news release issued by the diocese Monday night said: "It is painful for all those affected by sexual misconduct with minors whenever allegations are brought to light. The Diocese of Joliet understands that civil action is in some instances part of the healing process for victims and their families, and we respect the rights of individuals to pursue their goals through the legal system.

In the current lawsuit, two of the men alleging they were abused, Brian Softcheck, 36, of Illinois, and James Oberg, 38, of Wisconsin, agreed to make their names public. The other three have not.


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