Priest indicted on sexual abuse charges

United Press International
December 4, 1991

Chicago -- A Cook County grand jury Wednesday indicted a Roman Catholic priest on sexual abuse charges, accusing him of assaulting a 14-year-old Berwyn girl.

The Rev. Robert Mayer, 51, was indicted on four counts of criminal sexual abuse. The charges stem from an encounter in a building at St. Odilo's Church in Berwyn in January.

At the time, the victim was an eighth grade student at St. Odilo's Catholic School.

"We take allegations of child sexual abuse very seriously,'' State's Attorney Jack O'Malley said.

Mayer is scheduled for arraignment Dec. 19.

Sister Joy Clough, a spokewoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said Mayer was relieved of his duties in July and has been undergoing treatment ever since at St. Luke's Institute in Maryland.

She said the archdiocese took action after a 20-year-old man accused Mayer of propositioning him.

"When he was removed, parishoners were told he had resigned for personal reasons," Clough said. "In October, parishoners learned through news reports the personal reasons involved the allegation. They had great concern.

"The archdiocese held meetings at the parish. At one of those meetings, a young woman made allegations, which the archdiocese then reported to the Department of Children and Family Services. That was the first allegation something involving Father Mayer and a minor had occurred. There was a subsequent investigation and the outcome is apparent today."

Clough said the archdiocese would help Mayer with his legal fees.

She also said there had been other allegations involving Mayer in the past. While he was assigned to St. Edna's parish in Arlington Heights about 10 years ago, there was an incident that was settled through a civil suit. Later, while assigned to St. Stephen's parish in Des Plaines, several anonymous phone calls were made to the news media but police never were able to substantiate any of the charges.

"The sexual abuse of minors is a tragedy, especially when church personnel are involved," Cardinal Joseph Bernardin said. "The indictment of Father Mayer underscores the seriousness of such charges. I pray that through the judicial process justice will be achieved for all those involved in this particular case.


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