Suit Accuses Former Local Priest of Sexual Abuse

By Chris Dettro
State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)
January 31, 2004

A Georgia woman has filed suit in Madison County alleging a priest from the Springfield diocese sexually abused her for 16 years until his death in 1983.

The suit, filed Tuesday by Virginia Galloway, 46, also alleges that the late Rev. Richard Niebrugge fathered her child. Niebrugge was a priest in approximately 10 Illinois parishes, including Blessed Sacrament in Springfield. The abuse allegedly occurred in Madison and St. Clair counties.

The suit says that the church did nothing to stop the abuse, which Galloway says began in 1967, when she was 10 years old, and continued until Niebrugge's death on May 5, 1983. She says she became pregnant with Niebrugge's child in 1977.

Also named as defendants in the suit, which seeks more than $50,000 in damages, are the Rev. Herman Niebrugge of Mattoon, a brother of the deceased priest; and Msgr. Theodore Baumann, a priest in the Belleville diocese who Galloway says covered up the abuse.

Both the Springfield and Belleville dioceses also are named in the suit.

Kathie Sass, spokeswoman for the Springfield diocese, said Friday that Herman Niebrugge, pastor at Immaculate Conception Church in Mattoon, is hospitalized in Urbana with serious injuries. His car was broadsided by another vehicle on Thursday, she said.

Sass said she couldn't comment on specifics of Galloway's lawsuit, but that the diocese's aim hasn't changed.

"We want to get to the truth of the matter," she said. "If someone is harmed in any way, they deserve whatever help we can give them. And we want to make sure it will never happen again."

Richard Niebrugge served either as pastor or an assistant pastor in parishes in Alton, Springfield, Edwardsville, Decatur, Collinsville, Saint Marie, Grafton, Belltrees, Highland and Fieldon.

The Springfield diocese in November released portions of a report showing there have been 43 credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors against 14 priests in the diocese during the last 53 years.

A lawsuit was filed in Sangamon County in 1999 by Matthew McCormick, who said he had been sexually abused by a priest in Morrisonville in the early 1980s. McCormick, now 34, was in his early teens when the alleged abuse occurred.

The Rev. Alvin Campbell, the priest named in the lawsuit, has since died. In the late 1980s, Campbell was convicted of sexual abuse and served time in prison.

That suit remains pending.


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