Father Lawrence Gibbs, considered Joliet’s “most notorious priest abuser,” was recognized early on in seminary as a “poor candidate” for the priesthood. The Diocese of Joliet received repeated warnings about the character and propensities of Father Gibbs. Although in 1964 the faculty at St. Mary of the Lake seminary voted against allowing Gibbs to continue with his vocation and subsequently asked him to leave, Gibbs continued on at St. Procopius seminary. Again his superiors informed the Diocese of Joliet that Gibbs “bears watching.” In 1971, Gibbs applied for ordination into the Diocese of Joliet but after three hours of deliberations, the Seminary Board voted 9 to 0 against allowing Gibbs to be ordained. During their deliberations a number of the Board members stated that they cannot recommend him for the priesthood and they eventually gave him three options: 1) seek laicization, 2) take a leave of absence working as a layman and returning to an extended diaconate, or 3) continue as a deacon indefinitely. Although he was subsequently rejected by the Diocese of Rockford in 1971 and again by the Diocese of Joliet in 1972, noting he “seems to lack good judgment and prudence,” Bishop Blanchette for reasons unknown ordained Gibbs in May 1973 as a priest of the Diocese of Joliet. Problems arose almost immediately with Gibbs, and he was abruptly transferred to and from a number of parishes in Lombard, Lockport and Glen Ellyn. During the latter half of the 1970s, allegations surfaced regarding Gibbs sexually abusing boys at a cabin. Although Bishop Imesch was directly notified that several families intended to file charges against Gibbs, he simply transferred him to a different parish. Numerous parishioners came forward to express their concerns, but Gibbs was still allowed access to children. In 1992, the Diocese of Joliet finally suspended Gibbs from public ministry.
Originally a Trappist monk, Father Lowell Fischer requested incardination into the Diocese of Joliet in 1962. Fischer wrote to Bishop Blanchette and explained that he had worked with young boys for the past four years, but that his “extremely active work” caused many “misinterpretations and misunderstandings.” When Fischer left the monastery, his former abbot cautioned Bishop McNamara to put Fischer under “careful surveillance of a good experienced pastor . . . lest in his naiveté, he might make some serious mishap.” Over the course of the next few years, Fischer made it well-known that he enjoyed working with youth, and many commented that he had a “winning way” with boys and that although he was reluctant to form close relationships with other priests, he made notable effort to “gain better report with the school boys.” In 1975 Fischer abruptly resigned from St. Scholastica Parish and announced he was moving to Hawaii and going on “sabbatical” so he would not end up “in bad health or a nervous breakdown.” A year later, Fischer made clear that he could not return to the Diocese of Joliet because of the “lies, slander, and accusations” against him. He spent the next eighteen years in Hawaii before returning to Joliet in 1993 under restriction. Although multiple allegations of abuse involving Fischer came to light, he was not officially removed from ministry until 2002 when a young man came forward and reported that Fischer had not only begun sexually abusing him in 1968, but that he eventually moved to Hawaii with Fischer. In general, Fischer abused boys in multiple locations, including St. John the Apostle, Holy Ghost, St. Scholastica, and within the Diocese of Honolulu. When Fischer abused boys, he often referred to the abuse as “sharing.”
While Father Myles White was still in seminary, concerns arose regarding not only his temperament but also his ability to keep the vow of chastity. In 1967, the Diocese of Joliet stressed that it was of “paramount importance” that White be fully aware of what the law of celibacy requires and the necessity for White to provide an “explicit statement concerning celibacy.” In 1968, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Joliet is made aware that White engaged in acts of “imprudence” with young men, but the Bishop did not feel the problems were “serious enough” to stop White’s ordination. After he was ordained, White was transferred multiple times for a variety of unknown “personal problems” or “mistakes” before becoming pastor of St. Boniface in Monee from 1978 through 1988. He also served as pastor of St. Martin in Kankakee from 1988 until July 1992, when he was arrested on charges of child molestation. Notably, a video surfaced of White sexually abusing a young man and when the police went to White’s home, they found him destroying photographs of him and the young man. White soon admitted to sexually abusing children during a number of his assignments within the Diocese of Joliet. White was removed from ministry and served prison terms in both Illinois and Indiana.
Files were released today on 9 priests in the Diocese of Joliet who have had substantiated claims of child sexual abuse. Click here to view the Diocese’s files on the following priests: Fr. James Burnett, Fr. Philip Dedera, Fr. Michael Gibbney, Fr. Lawrence Gibbs, Fr. Carroll Howlin, Fr. Fred Lenczynski, Fr. Lawrence Mullins, Fr. Anthony Ross, and Fr. William Virtue.
The following list was created by the Diocese of Joliet’s own Review Board. The list reveals the extent of the problem of sexual abuse by priests of the Diocese since the 1960’s. The list indicates that the Bishops of the Diocese were receiving reports of abuse as early as 1962, yet the Diocese allowed the accused priests to remain in their positions for many years later. It gives the names of at least 28 priests who have been identified as being accused of child sexual abuse. Survivors of Joliet diocesan priest abuse believe the diocese has been less than forthcoming with this information. It appears in excess of a hundred allegations have been made from the early 1960’s through the present, leading to the conclusion the Diocese has known for decades of this serious problem. The release of this list and the priests’ files are finally a step in the right direction toward transparency in identifying abusive priests and addressing the long-standing problem of child sexual abuse in this diocese. You can see the full priest sex abuse files for nine of these priests by clicking here. You should know you are not alone. If you want more information about these files or your legal options, feel free to contact one of our attorneys.
Pope Francis has been seen by some as very progressive. He asked forgiveness from those who were abused by priests, but are they ready to forgive so easily? We think it’s a step in the right direction that the new Pontiff is acknowledging the problem (even though we’ve heard it before), but does it really go far enough? One child abuse survivor spoke out to the Huffington Post, asking “Why can you be a child molester and a priest?”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/14/church-victim-responds-to-pope_n_5147250.html
The harms caused by childhood sexual abuse have effects that can last a lifetime, and often, the child who was abused doesn’t recognize that the sexual abuse is what caused many of the problems in his or her life. An attorney that is knowledgeable in sexual abuse cases can help victims in their path to healing. A civil lawsuit brought against the organization that covered up abuse and moved a priest from one parish to another in hopes that they wouldn’t abuse again can compensate the victim for their suffering. Even if the abuse happened decades ago, you may still have a claim. Contact one of our attorneys to find out.
Today our attorneys filed three new claims against the Archdiocese of Chicago on behalf of three men who survived abuse by Father Norbert Maday. Notably, two of the men were also abused by former Scout leader Thomas Hacker on church retreats with Maday. Click here to read more about the new cases.
The Archdiocese of Chicago has released “documents relating to the sexual misconduct of thirty priests of the Archdiocese.” We have made them available for you to read. Click here to read the files on each priest, including Fr. Norbert Maday, Fr. Kenneth Brigham, Fr. William O’Brien, Fr. Robert Mayer, Fr. Henry Swider, Fr. John Curran, Fr. Raymond Skriba, Fr. William Cloutier, Fr. James Hagan, Fr. Joseph Fitzharris, Fr. Thomas Job, Fr. Robert Becker, Fr. Marion Snieg, Fr. Daniel Holihan, Fr. Daniel McCormack, and more.
Father Maday is alleged to have abused dozens of children before he was finally arrested and convicted. Nearly a dozen allegations were filed with the Chicago Archdiocese between 1997 and 2006. It also appears that the Archdiocese has long known that Father Mayday posed a danger to children. For example, in 1992 Father Mayday was “removed from St. Jude/So. Holland due to allegations brought to the attention of Pat O’Malley by the States Attorney.” [AOC003705] Father Maday, most recently, was a former associate pastor at Our Lady of the Ridge Parish in Chicago Ridge. Prior to that, he had held placement at Saint Jude the Apostle Parish in South Holland, IL, as well as St. Louis de Montfort parish in Oak Lawn, IL. You can read his full file by clicking here.
We currently represent a number of men who survived abuse by Father Maday. If you or someone you know we’re abused by him, please contact us to learn your legal options.
Rev. Daniel McCormack was a teacher and basketball coach at Our Lady of the Westside (now St. Agatha Academy) school in Chicago, IL. He confessed in 2007 to sexually abusing five boys and served 2.5 years. More victims are coming forward and bringing lawsuits against the Chicago Archdiocese, claiming the Archdiocese failed to look into multiple allegations of abuse.
Daniel McCormack Defrocked
$3,200,000 Settlement with Chicago Archdiocese
Similar to other settlements and jury verdicts obtained by Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC and Hurley McKenna & Mertz, a boy who was abused by Rev. McCormack between the ages of 10 and 12 settled for $3.2 Million against the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2011. Similar settlements have been reached over incidences of abuse by Rev. McCormack, including $2.3 million for 4 boys who suffered child sexual abuse at his hands.
You are not alone.
If you were abused by Rev. McCormack or any other clergy, please contact us today to speak to an attorney, confidentially and at no cost and find out your options.