Priest Sex Abuse Costing Chicago Archdiocese $220 Million — And Rising

News: US News
by Martina Moyski  •  •  September 18, 2019   

Chairman of finance council: 'Claims come forward every time you turn around'

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CHICAGO ( - A prominent sex abuse attorney announced at a press conference on Sept. 17 that he recently settled cases for long-ago sexual misdeeds for more than $80 million for 160 victims over the last two decades.

The more than $80 million the Chicago archdiocese has paid since 2001, attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates said, represents a large chunk of the estimated $220 million that the archdiocese had spent in total to settle such claims.

The $80 million includes new settlements that Anderson said were reached in recent days on behalf of seven victims of five former priests:

Daniel McCormack — McCormack alone has already cost the archdiocese millions of dollars and has been accused of abusing more than two dozen boys and young men, mostly while he was serving as a priest, coach and teacher at St. Agatha's parish on the West Side.

John William Curran — Curran was removed from ministry in 1994 and was eventually named as the subject of as many as 18 different complaints of child abuse over two decades, according to priest abuse files released by the archdiocese in 2014. While serving at St. Christina's Church on Chicago's South Side, he molested young boys in his room in the rectory in the 1980s. He died in 2000.

Edward J. Maloney — Maloney was accused of sexually abusing two children while serving at St. Mark on Chicago's West Side, where he was a priest for 21 years until 1996. He was removed from ministry in 2009 and died in 2018.

Robert E. Mayer — Mayer, who served in several parishes in Cook and Lake counties, was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and sentenced to three years in prison in 1993. In 2006, four men sued the archdiocese over claims that Mayer molested them in the 1970s and '80s while Mayer served at St. Barnabas in Chicago, St. Mary in Lake Forest and St. Edna in Arlington Heights. His whereabouts are unknown.

Robert D. Craig — Craig was among 12 priests the archdiocese settled sex abuse lawsuits for in 2007. He was removed from ministry in 1990, resigned in 1993 and was defrocked in 2009.

Four of the five former priests appear on the archdiocese's list of clergy associated with substantiated claims of sexual misconduct.

"What survivors need to know is that they can come forward, they can get help, they can be believed and they can do something to protect other kids in the future," Anderson said.

Among those who pursued cases against the archdiocese was Joe Iacono, 68, who said then-Rev. Thomas Francis Kelly abused him when he was an 11-year-old parishioner at St. John Vianney in Northlake, Illinois.

Iacono held back tears while he spoke at the press conference, saying he felt it was "imperative" that he "go forward."

"I know today there's still a lot of survivors that are suffering in silence," he added.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever done," Iacono said of coming forward. "It is very painful, but if we can help someone else, it's all worth it."

Anderson said, "That's the thing we do first — protect other kids. And do something today that will make it safe tomorrow for them."

Iacono said he met Anderson more than 15 years ago after reading about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston.

Additional sexual abuse settlements are not expected to diminish in the Chicago archdiocese anytime soon.

Additional sexual abuse settlements are not expected to diminish in the Chicago archdiocese anytime soon.

Anderson said he is still litigating cases with survivors who have not settled to date. Edward J. Wehmer, chairman of the archdiocese's finance council, said even with the decrease in contemporary claims of abuse, claims of sexually aberrant behavior from decades ago come forward "every time you turn around."

Officials from the Chicago archdiocese told the Chicago Tribune in July that the cost of anticipated additional settlements could be roughly $156 million.

Church Militant reached out to Paula Waters, spokeswoman for the Chicago archdiocese, but has received no reply by press time.

The Chicago Tribune, however, quoted Waters as saying that the Church does not confirm or comment on settlements. In addition, Waters explained that the archdiocese is able to pay out the settlement money largely by selling Church property it no longer uses.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago said, "It is the courage of victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history."

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