Friday, November 29, 2013

Archdiocese of Chicago Reaches Settlement in Abuse Case, Issues Corrections Following SNAP Press Conference

Cardinal Francis George
Archbishop of Chicago

The Archdiocese of Chicago has reached a settlement in a sexual abuse survivor case involving a former priest.  The Archdiocese agreed to pay $2.3 million to the victim.  The settlement also calls for the Archdiocese to release on January 15 their confidential files regarding allegations of sexual abuse against a total of 30 priests. The files will reveal how well Church officials responded to the allegations. 

The Chicago Sun-Times has the story:
A $2.3 million settlement in a sexual abuse survivor case involving a former priest and filed against the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George was announced by attorneys Tuesday.
The victim, identified only as John Doe, is now in his early 20s, and was sexually abused in his pre-teen and early teen years by Daniel McCormack between 2004 and 2006, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleged “McCormack would invite the plaintiff inside the rectory of St. Agatha Catholic Church, where he would sit plaintiff on his lap, unzip his pants and fondle” the plaintiff.
It also alleged that the defendants “knew or should have known of McCormack’s dangerous and exploitative propensities as a child molester.”
Read the rest here.  

Barbara Blaine
President of SNAP
Following the announcement of the settlement, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) held a press conference on November 26.  Barbara Blaine, president of SNAP, made a number of charges against the Archdiocese of Chicago for its handling of the case.  

The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement on November 27, correcting many of the errors which Ms. Blaine had made in talking with the press.  The Archdiocesan statement is included here in its entirety.  

Response of the Archdiocese of Chicago to statements
made during Jeff Anderson's November 26, 2013 press conference November 27, 2013
The Archdiocese of Chicago would  like to respond to several statements made during the November 26, 2013 press conference held by attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, and founder and president of SNAP Barbara Blaine.

§  Statement by Barbara Blaine: “We believe the Archdiocese has a responsibility to disclose the whereabouts of these individuals. … We believe that they [the Archdiocese] have the resources to identify and find that out, and most of them are still receiving payments from the Archdiocese and are on the payroll, and their whereabouts should be made known.
§  Correction: No priests who have resigned from the priesthood or have been laicized are still on the payroll of the Archdiocese. Some may have pensions that have vested and therefore receive benefits from their pension. The Archdiocese has identified and listed on its website for many years the names of priests with substantiated allegations of abuse.

§  Statement by Barbara Blaine: “We hear from survivors all the time, and I think that a question that should be asked of the Archdiocese, because they know. … I know there are victims who are hurting, and they allege that they were abused and they have told the Archdiocese officials and, are they still in ministry? I think that it’s fair to say that we should assume there are … I can’t give a number and a name, but…”
§  Correction: No priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago with even one substantiated allegation of abuse is currently in ministry.  It is immoral to keep all Catholic priests under a cloud of suspicion.  In recent years, our personnel files have been checked three times by the civil authorities. Every allegation that is brought forward is reported immediately to the civil authorities, and each priest has received mandated reporter training.  Each priest has undergone a criminal background check. All have received special VIRTUS training to recognize the signs of possible sexual abuse in minor children.  Priests are not permitted to be alone with a child, or to drive a car with a child without another adult being present.  They have received, both while in the seminary and since, extensive training on boundary violations.

If Barbara Blaine has information about abuse of which the Archdiocese is unaware, the Archdiocese requests that she inform civil authorities and the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth immediately so that an investigation can be conducted.

§  Statement by Barbara Blaine: “No such [grand jury] investigation has happened in Illinois, the only information that has been disclosed has been voluntarily disclosed and so we don’t know the extent of the problem. I think it would be na├»ve to think that it’s any different here than any of those places…” [Philadelphia, Minnesota] “so I believe that if such an investigation [grand jury] were to occur here, similar results would be found.
§  Correction: There was a grand jury investigation in Illinois in 1992. The protocols that were put in place by the Archdiocese in 1992, including the formation of the Review Board which hears allegations against living priests, were the foundation of the Dallas Charter in 2002, so the Archdiocese of Chicago was a decade ahead of the rest of the country in terms of dealing with clergy sex abuse. Again, no priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago with even one substantiated allegation of abuse is currently in ministry.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is in full compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. Bishops in Dallas in June, 2002. The Charter requires that no priest with even one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor can serve in public ministry. The Archdiocese of Chicago refers all reports of sexual abuse immediately to civil authorities. The Archdiocese’s independent Review Board examines the findings of all investigations and ensures that all perpetrators are permanently removed from ministry or service.

As always, the Archdiocese of Chicago is concerned first and foremost with the healing of abuse victims and has maintained a victim assistance ministry for more than 25 years. In addition, the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, charged with serving victims and preventing abuse, has trained and processed background checks on more than 160,000 priests, deacons, religious, lay employees and volunteers; conducted more than 3,000 training sessions; and trained more than 200,000 children to protect themselves from sexual predators.

The abuse of any child is a crime and a sin. The Archdiocese encourages anyone who believes they have been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, religious or lay employee, to come forward. Complete information about reporting sexual abuse can be found on the Archdiocesan website at

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