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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Joliet Chuch PewsThe Catholic Diocese is one of the most powerful institutions in the world. The church has stood as a beacon for faith, community, and tradition for centuries. 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 clergy members 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 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 a Joliet Diocese clergy abuse lawyer 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 moved him from parish to parish instead of dismissing him from his post.

While these three survivors may have achieved some 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 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 essential 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 publicly disclosed names of clergy accused of sexual abuse in the Joliet Diocese. Unfortunately, this list is incomplete, as other church officials 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 F 1959 Leave 5/2002 for old accusations that he molested an 8th-grade boy; cleared by Diocesan investigation 6/10/2002 and returned to duty Deceased 7/16/2014
Bennett, Richard L 1972 Abused a youth once in 1976 after learning of abuse by another priest; Supervised through 4/2006; allegations dismissed and supervision removed 5/2017 Sued
Buczyna, Andrew L 1987 Removed from ministry in 2008; Permanently removed from ministry Accused
Burnett, James 1968 Accused of abuse in 2/2006 denied; removed; second suit filed 2007; permanently removed from ministry Sued
Corbino, Thomas A. 1972 8/2011 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 4/2013 Accused
Dedera, Phillip J 1972 Removed from hospital chaplain minister in 2002 after an allegation he abused a teenager in 1974; Sued in 2006 with an allegation of abuse over 100 times at St. Pius X in Lombard; Settled; Permanently removed from ministry 12/16/2018 Accused
Dennerlein, Arno 1969 2/2003 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 F 1937 Retired in 1980; Credible allegations that went unresolved Deceased 12/6/1996
Dugal III, William 1976 Chaplain at Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison and used a wheelchair; Retired in 200; Privileges removed Deceased 2009
Fischer, Lowell E 1954 Removed from ministry in 2002 after being accused in Hawaii Deceased 6/2006
Flores, Alejandro (Alex) 2009 Ordained for Joliet 6/2009; Removed 1/4/2010 from First Family after a couple accused him of abusing their 13-year-old son for five years; Suicide attempt 1/6/2010 by leaping from a balcony; sustained head injuries; Released 1/20/2010 and arrested; pled guilty 9/2010 to first allegations and four years of prison; Paroled 6/2013; permanently removed from ministry Convicted
Formusa, Salvatore 1935 Retired 1985; Removed from ministry without privileges 2002 Deceased 2006
Frederick, James 1959 Name on Joliet Diocese list 4/10/2006 of priests with substantiated allegations Deceased 1988
Gibbney, Michael L 1975 Removed 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 2011 Laicized
Gibbs, Lawrence (Larry) M 1973 Multiple 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 the 1990s and later married; Named in $4.137 million settlement re: five priests in 4/2015 Settled
Howlin, Carroll 1961 Alleged abuse in 1975 at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and on trips; Removed; Deceased 5/5/2015
Jacklin, Richard E 1984 Pastor 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 act Charged
Jendrysik, Mark 1985 Permanently removed from ministry in 2018; admitted to “having sexual contact” with a teen girl over 35 years prior Accused
Jochem, Harold 1930 Alleged abuse from 1974-1978; Suit says that two priests forced the youth to engage in group sex, smoke marijuana and drink alcohol over a four-year period Deceased by 2004
Lenczycki, Frederick A. 1972 Removed 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 8/2019 Convicted
Malzone, John D 1955 Left ministry 1970 Deceased 2008
McBrien, Kevin Michael 1970 Removed from a 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 a supervised setting as of 8/2010 Accused
McGrath, Richard J 1973 4/2018 accused in a 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 Chicago Sued
Meis, J. Anthony 1972 1994 allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor in the 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) 1977 1986 first allegations; Removed 1993; five men filed suit in 2002 alleging molestation; dismissed under statute of limitations; laicized 2018 Laicized
Nowak, James A 1967 Retired 2007; Removed without privileges 8/2012 after allegations of sex abuse of minor 25 years prior; permanently removed Sued
O’Connor, Donald 1964 Removed from ministry 5/2002 after allegations that he abused an adolescent boy 1967- 1970; Deceased 2011
Pock, Donald P 1958 1987 told parishioners he was a recovering alcoholic; Removed from ministry at St. Peter’s in 2002; Abuse in 1970; sent for counseling, then reassigned Deceased 2004
Poff, Edward 1958 Accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1994; allegation substantiated by church authorities and sent for therapy; Accused
Ross, Anthony J 1972 Molested a 15-year-old boy twice in 1981; Ross admitted the abuse and was sent to treatment; permanently removed in 4/2002; sued in 2006 Sued
Ruffalo, Richard 1959 Allegations in 1997; 2002 accused by at least two men of abusing them when they were boys; allegedly gave them beer and wine, took them on trips to Las Vegas, and molested them; Stealing from collections Deceased
Ryan, F. Lee 1968 Abuse accusation in 5/2010 of a boy 30 – 35 years prior; Privileges removed 9/2012 Deceased 9/2/2016
Salwach, Jeffrey 1984 Civil suit alleging he was abused as a youth from 1974- 1978 by Saleach and another friar; Working in MO Sued
Simonelli, Gerald 1990 List 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 leave Accused
Slade, Henry 1984 Arrested 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 12/1991 Deceased 2016
Slown, John 1959 Convicted of sexually abusing a boy in DuPage County in 1983; Removed from ministry in 1986 Convicted
Stalzer, David 1974 1993 civil suit claims that he and another person abused the plaintiff in 1981; suit dismissed in 1994; returned to duty 4/1993 with supervision and limited contact with youngsters; Active duty until Deceased 2000
Stefanich, Edward 1965 Abused 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 k Deceased 2016
Storm, James 1952 On Joliet diocese list of priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors as revised 3/12/2013 Deceased 1974
Van Duren, Charles 1952 Retired 1995; credible accusations post death Deceased 8/1997
Virtue, William D 1975 Accused in 2006 of abuse Sued

Widespread Abuse in the Catholic Church

Initial allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic church members 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 relocated accused clergy members to new congregations. The allegations of sexual abuse have made waves worldwide. Still, 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 the police, church leaders have repeatedly handled 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 alarming for the Catholic Church. Rather than own its role in the crisis and risk even more bad press and litigation, the church has redoubled its 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 unexpectedly.

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

Therapy, medication, and time can help survivors process their abuse and come to terms with all they have experienced. Unfortunately, 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 tough 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 many survivors feel in the wake of such abuse. 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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