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Joliet Diocese Abuse Lawyer

Joliet Chuch PewsThe Catholic Diocese is one of the most powerful institutions in the world. For centuries, the church has stood as a beacon for faith, community, and tradition. Unfortunately, in recent decades, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet has become associated with a far more painful subject: allegations of sexual misconduct.

Priests and other members of the clergy in the Joliet, IL Diocese have allegedly used their positions of power to abuse the most vulnerable members of their congregations. Through the years, more and more victims have come forward with stories of trusted faith leaders taking advantage of their roles as mentors to prey upon their followers. Children, in particular, have fallen victim to this kind of predatory behavior.

The sexual abuse crisis in the church has reached virtually every corner of the globe, and the Diocese of Joliet has not been exempt. Though it is difficult to imagine our community leaders betraying the trust of their congregations, it is even harder to swallow the cover-up of such abuse.

Without legal action, the full extent of the church’s sexual abuse crisis may never be uncovered. That’s why so many survivors are lending their voices to the civil cases that help bring abusers to justice and hold the Catholic Church accountable for their role.

Lawyers Committed to Holding Wrongdoers Accountable in Civil Lawsuits

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is committed to holding the Joliet Diocese accountable for the acts of their priests and other officials who have sexually abused and assaulted others. We have experience prosecuting clergy abuse cases involving the sexual abuse of children and stand ready to assist you with your case. Contact our law firm today.

Allegations of Abuse in the Diocese of Joliet

In 2018, the Diocese of Joliet agreed to settle a $1.4 million lawsuit filed by sexual abuse survivors. The three men who filed the suit claim a church bishop repeatedly molested them when they were children. Despite credible allegations of abuse against him, the priest was allowed to continue his role in the church for years. Lawyers say the church opted to move him from parish to parish instead of dismissing him from his post.

While these three survivors may have achieved some degree of justice, they are far from the only victims in the Diocese of Joliet. A recent report named 43 different Joliet priests allegedly responsible for the abuse of worshippers. Some of the priests included in the report have faced criminal charges for their behavior. Others have passed away. Many remain working as faith leaders to this day.

Anyone interested in the specific allegations levied against priests in the Diocese of Joliet can browse the database of accusations themselves. It’s important to educate oneself about the full extent of the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis, but it’s never easy to read about such crimes. Documentation of alleged abuse is vital to the exposure of these horrors, though – as is the sharing and continued discussion of said abuse.

Allegations of Sexual Abuse Involving Joliet Clergy

Below are some of the publicly disclosed names of clergy accused of sexual abuse in the Joliet Diocese. Unfortunately, this list is not complete as there are other church officials who have perpetuated abuse, but have not been publicly named. One of these members is Father John Burke of St. George Parish in St. George, IL. It has been alleged that Father Burke used his position at Youth Services Bureau in Kankakee, IL to groom young people and ultimately abuse them.

Name:Date of Ordination:Action Taken:Current Status:
Barrett, John F1959Leave 5/2002 for old accusations that he molested at 8th grade boy; cleared by Diocesan investigation 6/10/2002 and returned to dutyDeceased 7/16/2014
Bennett, Richard L1972Abused a youth once in 1976 after learning of abuse by another priest; Supervised through 4/2006; allegations dismissed and supervision removed 5/2017Sued
Buczyna, Andrew L1987Removed from ministry in 2008; Permanently removed from ministryAccused
Burnett, James1968Accused of abuse in 2/2006 denied; removed; second suit filed 2007; permanently removed from ministrySued
Corbino, Thomas A.19728/2011 Allegations of inappropriate behavior with a minor; Board found allegations did not rise to the level of sexual abuse of minor but were inappropriate; Resigned from St. Pius X and went to treatment; Removed by hospital 4/2013Accused
Dedera, Phillip J1972Removed from hospital chaplain minister 2002 after allegation he abused a teenager in 1974; Sued in 2006 with allegation of abuse over 100 times at St. Pius X in Lombard; Settled; Permanently removed from ministry 12/16/2018Accused
Dennerlein, Arno19692/2003 two brothers told Joliet police that Dennerlein had sexually abused them when they were boys in the early 1970s; Removed; Abuse allegations deemed credible;On leave
Dinan, Paul F1937Retired in 1980; Credible allegations that went unresolvedDeceased 12/6/1996
Dugal III, William1976Chaplain at Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison and used a wheelchair; Retired in 200; Privileges removedDeceased 2009
Fischer, Lowell E1954Removed from ministry in 2002 after accused in HawaiiDeceased 6/2006
Flores, Alejandro (Alex)2009Ordained for Joliet 6/2009; Removed 1/4/2010 from First Family after a couple accused him of abusing their 13 year old son for 5 years; Suicide attempt 1/6/2010 by leaping from balcony; sustained head injuries; Released 1/20/2010 and arrested; pled guilty 9/2010 to first allegations and 4 years of prison; Paroled 6/2013; permanently removed from ministryConvicted
Formusa, Salvatore1935Retired 1985; Removed from ministry without privileges 2002Deceased 2006
Frederick, James1959Name on Joliet Diocese list 4/10/2006 of priests with substantiated allegationsDeceased 1988
Gibbney, Michael L1975Removed from ministry 1992; sued 10/2002; Accused of abuse of a boy at Mary Queen of Heaven parish in Elmhurst and St. Francis of Assisi in Bolingbrook; Named as 1 of 5 priests in $4.137 million settlement in 4/2015. Laicized 2011Laicized
Gibbs, Lawrence (Larry) M1973Multiple accusers; Abuse in 1979; Termed Joliet Diocese's most notorious abuser; Accused of abuse in Lombard, Lockport and Glen Ellyn; Removed from ministry 1992; Left priesthood in 1990s and later married; Named in $4.137 million settlement re: five priests in 4/2015Settled
Howlin, Carroll1961Alleged abuse in 1975 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and on trips; Removed;Deceased 5/5/2015
Jacklin, Richard E1984Pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Goodrich; Arrested 10/31/2017 charged with sexual assault of a 39 year old paralyzed man with an intellectual disability who resided in Kankakee - a nurse walked in during a sex actCharged
Jendrysik, Mark1985Permanently removed from ministry 2018; admitted to "having sexual contact" with a teen girl over 35 years priorAccused
Jochem, Harold1930Alleged abuse from 1974-1978; Suit says that two priests forced the youth to engage in a group sex, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol over a 4 year periodDeceased by 2004
Lenczycki, Frederick A.1972Removed 2002; Convicted 2004 for abuse of 3 boys; Sentenced to 5 years in prison; Admitted to abusing up to 30 boys over 25 years; Deemed too dangerous to release; Released 9/2009 on parole; In IL sex offender registry; Laicized 2016; New charge of 2/2019 of assault of a boy in early 1990s; Sentenced to 10 years in prison 8/2019Convicted
Malzone, John D1955Left ministry 1970Deceased 2008
McBrien, Kevin Michael1970Removed from position at St. Matthew Church in Glendale Heights 5/2010 after allegations that he abused one youth on a single occasion 30 - 35 years ago; Lives in supervised setting as of 8/2010Accused
McGrath, Richard J19734/2018 accused in lawsuit of sexual abuse of boy ages 13 - 15 in 1995 - 1996; Abuse allegedly occurred at Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, where he was president; Police investigation; Resigned from high school; 12/2018 reported to have "gone missing"; thought to be living alone in ChicagoSued
Meis, J. Anthony19721994 allegation of sexual misconduct with minor in late 1980s; secret settlement was paid to the victim; 12/1994 post therapy he became chaplain at St. Anthonys Medical Center in St. Louis; Removed in 2002;Deceased 2015
Mullins, Lawrence (Larry)19771986 first allegations; Removed 1993; five men filed suit in 2002 alleging molestation; dismissed under statute of limitations; laicized 2018Laicized
Nowak, James A1967Retired 2007; Removed without privileges 8/2012 after allegations of sex abuse of minor 25 years prior; permanently removedSued
O'Connor, Donald1964Removed from ministry 5/2002 after allegations that he abused an adolescent boy 1967- 1970;Deceased 2011
Pock, Donald P19581987 told parishioners he was a recovering alcoholic; Removed from ministry at St. Peter's in 2002; Abuse in 1970; sent for counseling then reassignedDeceased 2004
Poff, Edward1958Accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1994; allegation substantiated by church authorities and sent for therapy;Accused
Ross, Anthony J1972Molested a 15 year old boy twice in 1981; ross admitted the abuse and was sent to treatment; permanently removed in 4/2002; sued 2006Sued
Ruffalo, Richard1959Allegations in 1997; 2002 accused by at least two men of abusing them when they were boys; allegedly game them beer and wine, took them on trips to Las Vegas and molested them; Stealing from collectionsDeceased
Ryan, F. Lee1968Abuse accusation in 5/2010 of a boy 30 - 35 years prior; Privileges removed 9/2012Deceased 9/2/2016
Salwach, Jeffrey1984Civil suit alleging he was abused as a youth from 1974- 1978 by Saleach and another friar; Working in MOSued
Simonelli, Gerald1990List on 6/24/2015 of "Diocesan Priests With a Credible Allegation of Sexual Abuse of Minors Made Against Them While Serving in the Joliet Diocese"; Removed from ministry 5/2010; On leaveAccused
Slade, Henry1984Arrested and removed from ministry 1/1990; Pled guilty 2/1990 to sexual misconduct with an 18 year old disabled man; Sentenced to 12 months probation; Suit 12/1991Deceased 2016
Slown, John1959Convicted of sexually abusing a boy in DuPage County in 1983; Removed from ministry in 1986Convicted
Stalzer, David19741993 civil suit claims that he and another abused the plaintiff in 1981; suit dismissed in 1994; returned to duty 4/1993 with supervision and limited contact with youngsters; Active duty untilDeceased 2000
Stefanich, Edward1965Abused a 15 year old girl for 16 months 1985 - 1986; proposed to this girl and parents complained; removed from ministry; sentenced to 6 months in jail and a year of counseling; Laicized in 1988; settled with family in 4/1988 for $450 kDeceased 2016
Storm, James1952On Joliet diocese list of priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors as revised 3/12/2013Deceased 1974
Van Duren, Charles1952Retired 1995; credible accusations post deathDeceased 8/1997
Virtue, William D1975Accused in 2006 of abuseSued

Widespread Abuse in the Catholic Church

Initial allegations of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic church were not made public until the 1980s, but accusations against abusive clergy members have been levied for far longer. Media coverage in the 80s helped publicize the phenomenon, and more and more victims found their voices with time. Abused children grew up to recount decades of abuse, and an increasingly global society shone a light on the pervasive nature of the problem.

Rather than hold abusive priests responsible for their behavior, the Catholic Church has chosen to relocate accused clergy members to new congregations. The allegations of sexual abuse have made waves all over the world, but church leaders have opted to expose new populations of churchgoers to potential abuse instead of dismissing the accused from their pulpits.

Though church leaders have acknowledged the problem and apologized on behalf of the organization at large, it is small comfort for survivors who will forever bear the scars of abuse.

Protected Predators by Church Officials

Most people have heard about abuse in the Catholic Church, but few realize the extent of the crisis. Even fewer people know about the church’s attempts to cover up the crimes committed by their clergy.

Instead of turning abusers over to police, church leaders have repeatedly chosen to handle matters internally. Internal accountability may seem like a good option, but it ignores the criminal behavior of the priests responsible for the abuse. Too often, investigations handled by the Catholic Church result in a mere shuffling of predators into new populations, exposing a fresh group of believers to the same old abusers.

Abuse allegations are bad for the Catholic Church. Rather than own their role in the crisis and risk even more bad press and litigation, the church has redoubled their efforts to hide the full extent of the issue. This inevitably leads to the protection of abusers and the betrayal of victims.

The Lingering Impact on Survivors

Survivors of sexual abuse carry the emotional load of their experience for a lifetime. In many cases, victims were children at the time of their abuse. Regardless of whether they endured ongoing abuse or a one-off encounter, the scars of such mistreatment can impact a person in unexpected ways.

Predators don’t select their victims at random. In many cases, they choose the most innocent, vulnerable members of their congregations, as they are less likely to speak up and report abuse to police. Taking advantage of their position in the community, the Catholic priests accused of abuse preyed upon the naive and defenseless in order to better protect themselves.

Therapy, medication, and time can help survivors process their abuse and come to terms with all they have experienced. Unfortunately, though, the stigma surrounding sexual abuse victims makes it difficult to advocate for oneself.

This is true of any victim of sexual abuse, but especially for those who fell prey to the Catholic Church clergy. It’s incredibly hard to accuse beloved church leaders of such horrific crimes, and many victims opt to bear the weight of their abuse in private. This reticence to speak up has allowed countless predators to continue their abhorrent behavior unchecked.

Sexual abuse survivors may develop depression, can suffer from anxiety and develop eating disorders. Others experience a loss of faith. While prosecution of criminal behavior can bring some closure for victims, no amount of legal action can undo the damage done. Tragically, a majority of sexual abusers will never be  brought to justice.

Powerful Advocacy for Survivors of Sex Abuse in the Joliet Church

If you’ve suffered sexual abuse from priests and Church officials employed in the Diocese of Joliet, our law firm may be able to help. We’re committed to fighting for the rights of survivors and holding abusive priests responsible for their actions.

Our law firm recognizes the powerlessness that so many survivors feel in the wake of such abuse, which is why we offer discreet, no-pressure consultations for those hoping to explore their legal options. Schedule your appointment now with a clergy sexual abuse attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC.


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