Abuse Claim against Priest Called Credible

Chicago Tribune
December 24, 2006

More than a year after a 38-year-old Colorado man accused a former priest of molesting him when he was 13, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has found the allegations to be credible.

James Steel is accused of molesting Robert Brangard when Brangard was a pupil at St. Joseph the Worker Parish school in Wheeling in the early 1980s. Brangard said Steel, along with another man, called him out of class to molest him in the parish residence and both sexually abused him on trips to a cabin in northern Wisconsin. Neither man has been charged.

While the statute of limitations in Illinois has expired, Wheeling police said they have worked with Wisconsin prosecutors in Washburn County, where that state's statutes would not prohibit prosecution.

The Washburn district attorney's office has not pressed charges against the two men.

The archdiocese said Steel was ordained in 1968 and served as associate pastor of St. Joseph the Worker from 1979 to 1984. He resigned from the priesthood in 1992 and was laicized in 2001. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

Brangard called the archdiocese's finding "a major victory."


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