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Diocese of Joliet’s List of Credibly Accused Priests

The Diocese of Joliet has released the names of priests and others who it believes have been the subject of “credible allegation(s) of sexual misconduct with minors made against them while serving in the Diocese of Joliet.”  Please know that these lists are not complete, and in December 2018 the Illinois Attorney General issued a report claiming the Catholic Church in Illinois has withheld the names of more than 500 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children.  Put simply, if you were sexually abused by a priest or someone associated with the Catholic Church, please do not be alarmed if the person is not on the Diocese’s list.  We have represented many people who were sexually abused by priests who were not included on the list of a Diocese or Archdiocese, only for the priest’s name to be added to the list at a later date.  If you want to learn your legal options, please contact us.

Here is a partial list of the names released by the Diocese of Joliet, sorted by last name:

(Last Name, First Name)

  1. Burnett, James R.
  2. Buczyna, Andrew
  3. Dedera, Philip
  4. Dennerlein, Arno
  5. Dinan, Paul
  6. Dugal, William
  7. Fischer, Lowell
  8. Flores, Alejandro
  9. Formusa, Salvatore
  10. Frederick, James
  11. Furdek, John
  12. Gibbney, Michael
  13. Gibbs, Lawrence
  14. Howlin, Carroll
  15. Lenczycki, Frederick
  16. Malzone, John
  17. Mateo, Leonard
  18. Meis, Anthony
  19. Mullins, Lawrence
  20. Nowak, James
  21. O’Connor, Donald
  22. Pock, Donald
  23. Poff, Edward
  24. Ross, Anthony
  25. Ruffalo, Richard
  26. Ryan, Lee
  27. Simonelli, Gerald
  28. Slade, Henry
  29. Slown, John
  30. Stefanich, Edward
  31. Storm, James
  32. Van Duren, Charles
  33. Virtue, William
  34. Walsh, Oliver
  35. White, Myles

Archdiocese of Chicago’s List of Credibly Accused Priests

The Archdiocese of Chicago has released the names of priests and others who it believes have had “at least one substantiated allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor.”  Please know that these lists are not complete, and in December 2018 the Illinois Attorney General issued a report claiming the Catholic Church in Illinois has withheld the names of more than 500 priests who have been accused of sexually abusing children.  Put simply, if you were sexually abused by a priest or someone associated with the Catholic Church, please do not be alarmed if the person is not on the Archdiocese’s list.  We have represented many people who were sexually abused by priests who were not included on the list of a Diocese or Archdiocese, only for the priest’s name to be added to the list at a later date.  If you want to learn your legal options, please contact us.

Here is a partial list of the names released by the Archdiocese of Chicago, sorted by last name:

(Last Name, First Name)

  1. Baranowski, Alexander Sylvester
  2. Bartz, Richard Barry
  3. Becker, Robert Charles
  4. Bennett, Joseph R.
  5. Bogdan, Leonard Adolph
  6. Bowman, Robert Peter
  7. Braun, David Francis
  8. Brigham, Kenneth
  9. Buck, Daniel Peter
  10. Burke, Edmund F.
  11. Burns, Eugene Patrick
  12. Calicott, John Walter
  13. Cloutier, William J.
  14. Craig, Robert
  15. Crosby, Thomas Carroll
  16. Curran, John William
  17. Czajka, Norman J.
  18. DeRoeck, Walter George
  19. Diedrich, Dominic Aloysius
  20. Dilla, Francis Emil
  21. Fassbinder, Richard Wayne
  22. Fitzharris, Joseph L.
  23. Flosi, James Vincent
  24. Friese, Robert
  25. Garza, Jesus P.
  26. Hagan, James Craig
  27. Hefferan, John Edward
  28. Hoder, James
  29. Hogan, Michael J.
  30. Holihan, Daniel Mark
  31. Huppenbauer, Walter Edward
  32. Job, Thomas
  33. Kealy, Robert Louis
  34. Keehan, John James
  35. Kelly, Thomas
  36. Keough, John Joseph
  37. Kissane, Joseph Patrick
  38. Kmak, Leonard Paul
  39. Lupo, William L.
  40. Maday, Norbert J.
  41. Maloney, Edward
  42. Mayer, Robert E.
  43. McCaffrey, Vincent
  44. McCormack, Daniel J.
  45. McDonald, Robert Joseph
  46. McNamara, Peter John
  47. Miller, Gary M.
  48. Mulsoff, Donald John
  49. O’Brien, William John
  50. Owens, Joseph
  51. Pallikunnen, Emmanuel
  52. Ray, James M.
  53. Robinson, John Allen
  54. Rohrich, John F.
  55. Romano, Russell Lawrence
  56. Ruge, Kenneth Charles
  57. Savage, Joseph E.
  58. Skriba, Raymond Francis
  59. Snieg, Marion Joseph
  60. Steel, James R.
  61. Stewart, Victor E.
  62. Strand, Ralph S.
  63. Swade, Thomas J.
  64. Swider, Henry Peter
  65. Tanghal, Albert
  66. Theisen, Richard Gregory
  67. Thomas, Joseph S.
  68. Turlo, Walter Joseph
  69. Ulatowski, Donald Francis
  70. Vader, Anthony Joseph
  71. Weston, Michael Howard

Non-Chicago Archdiocesan Priests, Religious Order Priests, Deacons

  1. Batuyong, William Patricio
  2. Wojtowicz, Louis
  3. Policetti, Sleeva Raju
  4. Przybylo, Czeslaw
  5. Pantoja, Eusebio
  6. Peralta, Carlos

Doe 2 v. Boy Scouts of America — New Case Law for Abuse Survivors

We represent more than a dozen men who were sexually abused in the 1980s by a Boy Scout leader named Thomas Hacker.  After we filed suit on their behalf, the Boy Scouts moved to dismiss their claims and asserted the claims were barred by the statute of limitations.  The statute of limitations is a law that requires people to file a lawsuit within a certain amount of time.

We responded to the Boy Scouts’ motion by arguing that our clients’ claims should not be dismissed because they filed their lawsuit shortly after learning that the Boy Scouts knew the Scout leader had a history of sexually abusing children but failed to take reasonable steps to protect them.  The trial court agreed with our position and denied the Boy Scouts’ motion.

The Boy Scouts appealed, but on January 13, 2017, the Court of Appeals rejected their appeal.  The Court of Appeals agreed with us that a jury should be allowed to decide whether it was reasonable for our clients to file their lawsuits shortly after learning that the Boy Scouts could have prevented their abuse.

While every case is different, this court decision is an important step in the right direction because it recognizes that abuse survivors may not realize until years after the abuse that someone like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church could have prevented their abuse.

Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Filed Against the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Chicago Presbyterian Church

Seven men have come forward and brought new suits against the Chicago Presbyterian Church, the Archdiocese of Chicago and related organizations due to the harm caused by the sexual abuse they endured at the hands of Presbyterian minister Douglas Mason of Chicago.  Mason was previously accused of sexually abusing boys in the 1990s.  Four of those plaintiffs settled for a confidential amount, believed to be $11 million.

In the new lawsuits, plaintiffs allege that Mason met, groomed and abused the boys at Austin United Presbyterian Church and San Marcos Youth Ministry, both run by the Chicago Presbyterian Church in the 1980s and 1990s.  Moreover, Mason routinely checked four of the boys out of St. Gregory the Great Catholic High School where they attended to sexually abuse them in the 1900s.  The school failed to alert the parents and allowed the abuse to happen.

The suit names the following organizations as defendants:

  • Chicago Presbyterian Church
  • Presbytery of Chicago and its Church Extension Board
  • Archdiocese of Chicago

Below are links to the legal complaints that have been filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune: “7 men file sex abuse suits against Chicago Presbytery”

Father Frederick Lenczycki

After being rejected by both the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Green Bay, not surprisingly Father Frederick Lenczycki was accepted as a seminarian in the Diocese of Joliet in 1963, with Bishop Blanchette reserving his vote until Lenczycki’s IQ could be determined.  Prior to his ordination in 1972, Lenczycki’s interest in working with boys was well-known and he expressed he wanted to be trained in “adolescent psychology.”  In 1980 Lenczycki experienced some unknown “difficulties” and requested a transfer from Bishop Kucera.  He was transferred to St. Isaac Jogues where he served until he was removed in 1984 after a 12-year-old boy reported that Lenczycki sexually abused him.  Lenczycki provided the State’s Attorney with a list of thirteen boys with whom he had inappropriate contact.  Bishop Imesch the urged Lenczycki to “spend some time away from the diocese” but that by “June of 1987” Lenczycki could return.  Bishop Imesch helped find Lenczycki an assignment within the Archdiocese of San Francisco and recommended him saing he was “an excellent priest” who “will do a fine job.”    During his tenure in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Lenczycki abused at least three children in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

In 1992, Lenczycki applied for faculties within the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Bishop Imesch stated “I have no reason why he should not be permitted to perform priestly ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”  During the 1990s and early 2000s numerous victims came forward, including a two former seminarians who were abused by Lenczycki at St. Charles Borromeo in 1979 one under the guise of “psychological research” and another during spiritual direction, as well as a victim who was taken to Lenczycki for “counseling” when he was approximately 10 years old.  In November 2002, the DuPage County State’s Attorney filed charges against Lenczycki for the 1984 sexual abuse.  Lenczycki pled guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison.  Just before his release in 2006, it was decided that he was too sexually dangerous to release and he served another three years. He was released on parole in 2009 and is a registered sex offender.   Over his 25-year career as a priest, it is estimated that he sexually abused at least 24 boys in three separate states.

Read the secret priest file on Father Frederick Lenczycki

Father Francis Lee Ryan

Rev. Francis Lee Ryan was “given the chance” to study for the priesthood in 1959 and was ordained in 1968.  In the early 1970s, the Diocese of Joliet received multiple letters from parishioners “criticizing Father Ryan,” however the Diocese has yet to produce those letters.  In 1985, the Diocese appointed Ryan as Diocesan Director of Vocations, a position of power he used to groom and abuse young boys who desired to enter the priesthood.  In April 1991 the Diocese received numerous reports of “rumors” regarding Ryan.  One parishioner states the rumors are “so violent in nature that if [true] should be investigated and Fr. [Ryan] should be defrocked.”  The parishioner then challenged Bishop Imesch by asking “if he is not suitable to remain at St. Francis, how can you in good conscience appoint him to another parish?” The Diocese did nothing in response except transfer Ryan to another parish.  In February 1993, a parishioner reported to Bishop Kaffer that Ryan “told him that he himself was a homosexual and had solicited” him.  However, Bishop Kaffer dismisses the complaint by saying the parishioner is “slightly retarded.”  In early 2002, the Diocese received reports of Ryan trying to groom a married man by repeatedly kissing him.  In response, Bishop Kaffer admitted Ryan engaged in “outrageous” conduct and “loved to shock people” when they worked together, but denies any abusive behavior.  The Diocese then sent Ryan for psychological treatment but then allowed him to resume an active ministry.  In 2010, a man came forward and reported Ryan sexually abused him while he was a student at Providence High School in the 1970s.  The Diocese placed Ryan on leave and in 2011 the Diocesan Review Committee unanimously agreed that allegations of abuse against Ryan were sustained.  Despite this agreement, in 2012 Bishop Conlon received instruction from Rome to reinstate Ryan because Ryan was not guilty of a “serious crime.”  Bishop Conlon then assigned him to St. Edmund Parish and St. Joseph Mission, but only a week later again placed Ryan on administrative leave “for the sake of the greater good of the Church.”

Father James Nowak

Difficulties with Father James Nowak began early on while he was still in the seminary.  In 1960, he was asked to leave the Capuchin Order because he was not “fit in regard to the vow of chastity.”  It was generally known that Nowak repeatedly watched others in the shower or using the restroom, and would roam the corridors and frequent the showers in order to seek such opportunities.  When he wrote to Bishop Blanchette in 1966 to request incardination into the Diocese of Joliet, he disclosed that he had been asked to leave the Capuchin Order because of his problems with chastity.  Despite this knowledge, Bishop Blanchette welcomed Nowak to the Diocese of Joliet, where he would eventually sexually abuse numerous children over the next three decades.  As early as 1967, the Diocese became aware of Father Nowak taking groups of children to swimming pools where he would swim and shower with them.  However, no restrictions were put on his behavior until 1990, when the Diocese prohibited him from being in any “locker room-type situations” with anyone under the age of 25.  Multiple victims of Father Nowak have come forward and described abuse at neighborhood pools, including Bolingbrook Park District. Father Nowak retired in 2007 and was placed on administrative leave in 2012 due to multiple accusations of childhood sexual abuse.

Read the secret priest file on Father James Nowak

Father Michael Gibbney

Throughout Father Michael Gibbney’s seminary years in the early 1970s, many of his superiors not only expressed their concerns about Gibbney, but many also refused to recommend him for advancement.  In 1975 when Gibbney petitioned the Bishop of Joliet for ordination, the Bishop was instructed to pay attention to “certain items” in Gibbney’s file that required attention and a subcommittee was formed.  Over objections by some on the Seminary Board, Gibbney was ordained in 1975.  In 1985 after a father reported that Gibbney had abused his sons on an overnight trip, Bishop Imesch gave Gibbney a series of “rules” regarding interacting with boys, including not taking boys on overnight trips.  Gibbney continued as an active priest until 1992, when he submitted his resignation after more allegations of abuse came to light.  Gibbney spent time with the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, and requested laicization in 2010.  During his time in the Diocese of Joliet, he abused numerous children at parishes in Elmhurst and Bolingbrook, Bensenville, Steger, and Morris.

Read the secret priest file on Michael Gibbney

Father Lawrence Gibbs

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.

Read the secret priest file on Father Lawrence Gibbs

Father Lowell Fischer

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.”