CHICAGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - An Illinois appeals court is reversing a decision to keep a pedophile cleric behind bars.
The state's 1st District Appellate Court unanimously ruled Tuesday that the state failed to prove defrocked priest Daniel McCormack had a mental illness that would cause him to re-offend.
Church Militant spoke with a priest familiar with McCormack since his days in seminary with him. The priest wished to remain anonymous.
"During McCormack's time in the seminary, there were several indicators of his proclivity to abuse," stated the priest emphatically. "Reports were filed with then-father Gerald Kicanas, rector at Mundelein Seminary, by seminarians for his homosexual predation. They were ignored."
These indicators of homosexual predation include accusations that McCormack, as a seminarian in the 1990s for the archdiocese of Chicago, had made sexual advances on at least one male minor and had engaged in oral sex with other seminarians. The homosexual seminarian had reportedly admitted to then-rector of Mundelein Seminary Gerald Kicanas, now the bishop of Tucson, Arizona, and to then-vice rector Msgr. John Canary that he had in fact engaged in various homosexual acts as a seminarian. Chicago's notorious archbishop, the late Cdl. Joseph Bernardin, himself steeped in accusations of grave misdeeds, nevertheless ordained McCormack to the priesthood in 1994.
The priest lamented the ruling: "A man known by all for abusing over two dozen boys is now going to walk free because some judges magically believe he has been cured and will abuse no more. He belongs permanently incarcerated!"
McCormack served a five-year prison sentence, which ended in 2009, for molesting five boys in St. Agatha's Parish in North Lawndale. He's remained in state custody since.
The three-judge panel reversed a 2017 ruling as part of which Judge Dennis Porter declared the former cleric a sexually violent person who should remain indefinitely within state facilities for sex offenders.
Judge Porter noted McCormack never sought corrective treatment for his pedophilic mental disorder.
"I can't disregard the fact that he has never been of the belief that he has a problem," Porter proclaimed. "This is something that doesn't go away on its own."
During the 2017 hearing, two experts were consulted. One, Dr. Angelique Stanislaus, was called in by the state. The other, Dr. Raymond Wood, was brought in by the defense.
Both concurred that McCormack had pedophilic disorder. They disagreed, however, on his proclivity to abuse again.
The defense's expert, Dr. Wood, believed McCormack had a "below-average risk" of re-offending, whereas the state's expert argued he is "much more likely than not" to re-offend.
In the run-up to Tuesday's ruling, all three judges agreed the 2017 prosecution had "left too much to inference when questioning Stanislaus."
So far, the archdiocese of Chicago has shelled out a whopping $140 million to settle sex abuse claims, several of which involved McCormack. The archdiocese has yet to make a statement on the recent events.
The state of Illinois has a history of releasing violent offenders from prison, even when they are a danger to themselves or to others. This ruling reveals clerical sex abusers are no exception.