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Joliet Diocese sexual abuse, Chicago sex offender attorneysOver the span of 20 years, priests ordained by the Joliet Diocese allegedly abused many boys involved in church programs from the 1960s through 1980s. The Joliet Diocese knew about priests abusing children well before they did anything to protect children and remove pedophile priests from parished in the Diocese of Joliet. How did these priests become ordained and allowed to be around children if the diocese knew about sexual abuse by these priests? Sexual abuse by anyone is wrong, but being sexually abused by someone ordained of God by the Roman Catholic Church is especially corrupt. Children and their parents are supposed to be able to trust priests–the people who are ordained to uphold the standards of the church.

The Diocese of Joliet placed into parish assignments several men were considered poor candidates for ordination, including one who was asked to leave a Seminary where he was taking classes. Instead of denying them ordination, Joliet Diocese ordained these men and then covered up the allegations of abuse by moving the men to different parishes.

Among the Diocese of Joliet priests accused of abuse are Father James Nowak, Father Michael Gibbney, Father Lawrence Gibbs, Father Myles White and Father Fred Lyncyczk. Each of these priests is listed on the Diocese of Joliet’s recently updated “List of Priests with Credible/Substantiated Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors Made Against Them.” You can find the recently released files for these priests here. The accused priests were actively involved in these diocese parishes:

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Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C.Earlier this week, Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. filed lawsuits against Chicago Presbytery on behalf of seven men sexually abused by Presbyterian minister Douglas Mason in the early ‘80s and ‘90s. The two separately-filed lawsuits follow an earlier lawsuit that was settled in 2007 with four accusers bringing sexual abuse claims against Mason. Church officials disclosed to the Chicago Tribune last year that the previously confidential settlement amount totaled $11 million.

The first lawsuit filed this past Wednesday details abuse occurring between the years of 1982 and 1986 when Mason, who died in 2004, was a pastor at the church the three plaintiffs, now in their 40s, attended. At the time, the Presbytery encouraged pastors to counsel young men in private, despite warnings of Mason’s pedophile behavior.

The second suit involves four men in their late 30s who were abused by Mason while they were members of San Marcos Youth Ministry. The molestation began in the ‘90s when the victims attended St. Gregory the Great High School. The pastor paid a part of each plaintiff’s school tuition and made regular visits. He also checked them out of school at least once a month with the purpose of sexually abusing them. School administrators, at the time, did not notify the parents that the students were being checked out.

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Today the Diocese of Joliet released more of its internal documents relating to sexual abuse by its priests. This is part of the ongoing disclosure required as part of a legal settlement last year.

This most recent batch of documents sheds more light on 16 of the 34 priests included on the diocese's list of credibly accused clergy, and includes a 438-page file on Rev. James Burnett. Burnett was accused of molesting an 8 year-old boy while serving at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena. He later served as rector at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet.

It is tragic to read how much the church knew about clergy sex abuse, and even more tragic to realize how little it did to protect the most vulnerable members of its flock. Yet the unprecedented disclosures are empowering more victims to acknowledge the harm they suffered and to demand their rights.

Posted on in Sexual Abuse Litigation

It just keeps coming.

The institutions that downplayed the crisis--that denied knowing about sexual predators in their midst, that protected the abusers and covered up for them so they could hurt more and more children--just keep admitting to more.

Today it was the Archdiocese of Chicago. After years of denial, the Archdiocese has released thousands of pages of internal church documents showing how it concealed sexual abuse for decades, moving priests to new parishes where they molested again.

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The Penn State sexual abuse scandal reminds us as trial lawyers that large institutions that deal with children do a terrible job of policing themselves when it comes to child sexual abuse. Institutions like the Catholic Church, and its Archdioceses in Chicago, Milwaukee and Boston, for example, have failed to respond to the problem of sexual abuse of children by priests, brothers and nuns honestly and firmly. Instead, the Catholic Church, like Joe Paterno and the Penn State administration, has responded to the abuse with excessive leniency, insensitivity, secrecy, and neglect.

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently addressed the parallels between the scandal at Penn State and the scandals involving large institutions such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America:

That has been true of the Boy Scouts, which has paid out tens of million of dollars in response to lawsuits by former scouts molested by adults who continued to work in the organization despite complaints or questions about their behavior.

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