Rev. Barrett Is Reinstated after Review
Diocesan Committee Finds No Support for Allegations
The Herald News
June 9, 2002
ELMHURST — One of 10 Roman Catholic priests from the Joliet Diocese who were removed from their ministries amid sexual-abuse allegations has been reinstated.
The Rev. John F. Barrett, who maintained his innocence from the very beginning, was reinstated Saturday at Mary Queen of Heaven parish in Elmhurst.
The reinstatement follows a re-examination by the diocese's independent Review Committee of an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor more than 30 years ago, according to a press release from the Diocese of Joliet.
The allegation had been considered unresolved by the Review Committee since it was first reported and investigated by the committee in the early '90s.
During its monthlong re-investigation of the available facts and circumstances, the committee was unable to substantiate the allegation by gaining further information from the accuser — who claimed Barrett abused him while he was a student at Notre Dame elementary school in Clarendon Hills 34 years ago — or by finding any evidence to support his accusation.
As a result, it recommended Barrett, 69, be allowed to return to parish ministry.
"While this experience has been extremely painful for Father Barrett and his parishioners, the independent Review Committee felt that it had to seek further closure of this previously unresolved matter in order to remain consistent with our ongoing commitment to address the tragedy of sexual misconduct with minors," Bishop Joseph L. Imesch stated in the press release.
"The committee weighed all the available facts and circumstances of the allegation with the goal of concluding whether or not it was substantiated," he added.
Imesch said the committee's re-investigation included interviews with several people who worked at the church, school and rectory at the time of the alleged abuse. The committee also considered the fact that no other allegations have been made involving Barrett, despite the public nature of both the allegation and the priest's denial of it.
"We sincerely wish there had been a way to do this without the pain this situation has caused Father Barrett, his parishioners and the accuser," Imesch said. "But I can't think of any way this could have been done without his name being disclosed, unless he had been left in ministry during the re-examination — a procedure that would not have been consistent with our commitment to safeguard children. If we are to be accused of erring, we must err on the side of protecting children."
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