Category Archives: Blog

Father Myles White

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.

Joliet Review Board’s List of Accused Priests since the 1960’s

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.

Joliet Diocesan Priests Accused with Substantiated Allegations of Child Sex Abuse

Pope Francis Comments on Child Sex Abuse

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?”:

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.

Read the Chicago Archdiocese Secret Priest Files

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.

Rev. Norbert Maday – Sexual Abuse File

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 – Sex Abuse Allegations

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

Rev. McCormack was defrocked in 2007 once the allegations became public.  According to documents from the Chicago Archdiocese, Rev. McCormack’s status presently is “Laicized.”

$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.

Rev. Daniel McCormack
Rev. Daniel McCormack

Archbishop of Chicago Releases Abuse Files

In an open letter posted on the Archdiocese’s website, Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., the Archbishop of Chicago, announced he will be releasing “documents relating to the sexual misconduct of thirty priests of the Archdiocese.”

You can click the following link to read the entire letter:  Chicago Archbishop Letter regarding abuse files

The Archdiocese has also disclosed the names of more than 60 priests who have “substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct with minors,” including their date of ordination, any action that has been taken against them, and their current status.  You can view the full list by clicking the following link:  Archdiocesan Priests with Substantiated Allegations of Sexual Misconduct with Minors

If you or someone you know survived abuse by a priest or other person associated with the Archdiocese of Chicago, please contact one of our attorneys to learn more about your legal options.  Our attorneys have represented hundreds of abuse survivors across the country, and we currently represent many people who were abused in Illinois, including schools within the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Joliet Diocese, and elsewhere.

Bankrupt Christian Brothers to Pay $16.5 Million to Settle Sexual Abuse Claims

The Christian Brothers of Ireland, a Catholic religious order, has agreed to pay $16.5 million to settle the claims of more than 400 survivors of sexual and physical abuse.  The order will also transfer ownership of various properties and certain insurance policies that may provide coverage of abuse claims.

In April 2011, two asset-holding corporations of the Christian Brothers, The Christian Brothers of Ireland, Inc., an Illinois corporation, and the Christian Brothers Institute, a New York corporation, filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.  According to court documents, the corporations filed for bankruptcy because of pending sexual abuse lawsuits, primarily in Washington state.

Since then, more than 400 men and women filed claims with the bankruptcy court, alleging they were sexually or physically abused by a Christian Brother or at a school run by the Christian Brothers.   The religious order has owned or operated schools in the United States since the early 1900s.

Seattle sexual abuse attorney Jason P. Amala, who represents more than 80 abuse survivors in the bankruptcy, believes the settlement is vindication for his clients and others: “For years the Christian Brothers denied any wrongdoing, but this settlement acknowledges their role in decades of children being sexual abused at Catholic schools across the country. It not only begins to provide closure for our clients, but it will help offset the costs to their families and to society as a whole.”

Since approximately 2002, Amala and his law partner, Michael T. Pfau, have settled more than 50 claims against the Christian Brothers and the Seattle Archdiocese on behalf of men who claimed they were sexually abused at Catholic schools in Washington state, including O’Dea High School and Briscoe Memorial School.  The total settlements exceeded $25 million.  Pfau and Amala were pursuing ten more claims against the Christian Brothers in Washington when the religious order chose to file for bankruptcy protection.

Although the settlement applies to claims against the Christian Brothers of North America, it allows abuse survivors to pursue claims against other institutions that they allege are also responsible for the abuse.  For example, more than 50 of the men represented by Pfau and Amala have filed claims in Washington and Illinois against other institutions that they allege are also responsible for the abuse, including the Seattle Archdiocese and the Archdiocese of Chicago.  The settlement does not affect those claims, or the rights of other abuse survivors to file similar claims against the same or other entities.

According to Pfau, additional lawsuits may be filed against a number of other entities, including the owners of schools where abuse took place:   “In many cases the local diocese or another entity owned the school and collected money from the school.  Those entities are often just as liable for the abuse as the Christian Brothers.  Many of our current clients intend to file claims against those entities, and I would not be surprised if more people come forward with similar claims.”

In addition to the monetary settlement, the Christian Brothers have also agreed to a number of measures that are designed to protect children from sexual abuse.  Pfau says the non-monetary terms were an important part of the settlement:  “Our clients want to make sure history does not repeat itself.  This settlement will help ensure future children are protected.”

Illinois Legislature Reforms Statute of Limitations

The Illinois legislature today passed SB1399, which aims to substantially reform the statute of limitations in Illinois for civil claims based on childhood sexual abuse.

Although it must still be signed into law by Governor Patt Quinn, the bill would allow a lawsuit based on childhood sexual abuse to be commenced at any time so long as the claim would not have been barred under prior statutes of limitations or statutes of repose.

The bill was passed the same day that five new lawsuits were filed against the Diocese of Joliet on behalf of men who allege they were sexually abused in the 1970s and 1980s when they were between 8 and 16 years old.  Each of the priests identified in the complaints, Myles White of St. Boniface, Michael Gibbney of St. Francis of Assisi, Frederick Lenczycki of St. Charles Borremeo Seminary and James Nowak of St. Dominic, were removed from ministry between 1992 and 2012.  The plaintiffs allege the Diocese of Joliet knew or should have known that the priests posed a danger to them and other children, but did nothing to protect them.

According to Mark McKenna, a Chicago attorney who represents the five plaintiffs, the new law will benefit both abuse survivors and the State of Illinois:  “This law recognizes not only that our clients and others have endured a lifetime of pain and suffering, but that there are major societal costs associated with child sexual abuse.  If signed into law by Governor Quinn, this new law will shift those costs onto the entities responsible for them, rather than our clients, their families, and society as a whole.  It is a major step in the right direction for Illinois.”

5 New Claims Against Joliet Diocese

Today we filed five new lawsuits against the Diocese of Joliet for sexual abuse that our clients suffered in the 1970s and 1980s.  Below are links to news stories on the filings:

Five men sue Diocese of Joliet over alleged sexual abuse

Five lawsuits filed against Joliet Diocese alleging sexual abuse

More Sex Abuse Cases Filed Against Diocese of Joliet

5 new lawsuits allege abuse at Joliet Diocese of the Catholic Church