“The files, which Rudofski’s attorney shared with the Tribune after redacting the names of other victims, contain more than 7,000 records detailing how the diocese purposefully shielded priests, misled parishioners and left children unprotected for more than a half-century.”
Priest cases show abuse issues persist
Joliet Diocese has struggled to fulfill its public promise to better protect children, records show
April 07, 2013 By Stacy St. Clair, David Heinzmann and Christy Gutowski, Chicago Tribune reporters
When Will County sheriff’s deputies found the Rev. William Virtue sneaking into a private quarry in 1986, police records state that the Roman Catholic priest had blankets, two six packs of beer and a 10-year-old boy with him. He fled on foot when officers arrived, leaving the child behind.
Authorities took Virtue into custody after he returned to his car but later released him without charges because the boy’s mother said she had given her son permission to go swimming with the priest. Still, a deputy forwarded the report to Joliet Diocese officials who put it into Virtue’s personnel file — which already contained several accusations involving inappropriate behavior with underage boys.
The arrest report would remain tucked away for 20 years as Virtue continued to have contact with youths, and even after a seemingly repentant Joliet Diocese pledged in 2002 to improve its handling of sex abuse cases and held up guidelines approved by American bishops as proof of its commitment to transparency and victims’ needs.
Virtue’s personnel file, which contains 500 pages of letters, memos and reports, reflects the struggles the church faced since its public vow to better protect children after a bruising, national sex abuse scandal. Records obtained by the Tribune reveal several instances in which the diocese’s handling of abuse allegations contradicted those promises, adding to concerns about the overall efficacy of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People that U.S. bishops signed amid fanfare in June 2002.
For four years after that charter’s passage, Virtue continued to minister in the central Illinois Peoria Diocese, where he officially transferred at his own request in 1988. A Tribune review found no indication that Joliet Diocese officials re-examined his personnel records after the adoption of the guidelines, which call for a review of all priests….
Virtue was removed from ministry in 2006 by the Peoria Diocese shortly after a former parishioner at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena alleged the priest raped him in the 1980s when he was an altar boy, according to church records.
A review board deemed the allegation credible, a decision Virtue is appealing. He has denied any inappropriate behavior.
The diocese reached an out-of-court settlement with the alleged victim from Mokena, church records show.
A Tribune investigation, which included reviewing more than 7,000 pages turned over in a settlement in an unrelated case, uncovered cases in which the Joliet Diocese failed to recognize the severity of allegations, made little effort to find victims and misled the public, raising concerns about the church’s adherence to the charter’s spirit….
Files detail decades of abuse in Joliet Diocese
By Christy Gutowski, Stacy St. Clair and David Heinzmann Tribune reporters
March 21, 2013
The Joliet Diocese readily admitted that David Rudofski was sexually abused during his first confession at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mokena. It offered him an in-person apology from the bishop and more than six times his annual salary in the hope of putting a quick, quiet end to yet another ugly incident involving a priest.
But Rudofski wanted more than money.
The south suburban electrician wanted the diocese to truly pay for its repeated and, oftentimes, willful mishandling of sexual abuse cases involving clergy — and he insisted on a currency far more precious to the church than money. He demanded that the diocese settle its debt by turning over the secret archives it maintained on abusive priests and making them available for public consumption.
“What was I supposed to do? Take the money and run?” Rudofski said. “How would that help anybody else? If people don’t know how this was allowed to happen for decades, they can’t prevent it from happening again.”
The diocese, however, fought Rudofski’s efforts for more than a year before agreeing to turn over the personnel files of 16 of the 34 priests with substantiated allegations against them. It also issued a news release adding his alleged abuser, the Rev. James Burnett, to its still-growing list of accused clergy.
The files, which Rudofski’s attorney shared with the Tribune after redacting the names of other victims, contain more than 7,000 records detailing how the diocese purposefully shielded priests, misled parishioners and left children unprotected for more than a half-century. They also raise new questions about whether the church has been forthcoming about the number of local priests involved in the scandal and the percentage of clergy confronted with credible claims.
Though the Joliet Diocese’s botched handling of pedophile priests has been well-documented in recent years, the records offer the most complete portrait of the ineptitude and indifference that greeted the allegations almost since the religious district’s inception in 1948. The errors span more than six decades and involved three bishops, 91 places of worship and more than 100 victims.
Researchers and Roman Catholic Church officials have previously said that about 4 percent of priests nationally committed an act of sexual abuse against a minor between 1950 and 2002, with church officials claiming the rate of abusers within the priesthood is no different from that among other professions.
However, the files show that the Joliet Diocese — which includes parishes in DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall and Will counties — had double or triple that percentage in the 1980s. In 1983, for example, more than 13 percent of priests serving in the diocese would later have credible abuse allegations leveled against them….
Rudofski was 8 years old when the Rev. James Burnett fondled him while the boy was making his first confession, documents indicate. Court records show he immediately told his mother that the priest had forced him to pull down his pants in the confessional, but she chastised him for making up an outlandish story on such an important day.
After his mother’s reprimand, Rudofski said he buried the memory and went on to have a normal childhood. He says it wasn’t until adulthood, when he struggled with nightmares about a caped man chasing him, that he confronted the past. He sued the diocese in 2007.
In an October 2006 affidavit for her son’s lawsuit, Patricia Rudofski said she scolded him for lying because she trusted her pastor. She said she forgot about her son’s allegation until years later, when another alleged victim accused Burnett of abuse.
“I was feeling horrible thinking about my son, thinking that I’m the one who told him to do whatever the priest said,” she said in the affidavit. “I mean, I’m feeling horrible, and I just — it was like a flashback. … Oh my God, he told me.”
David Rudofski, who received a personal apology from former Bishop Peter Sartain in 2010, said he hopes the newly released files will help his mother heal, as well….
Rudofski eventually settled for $600,000 and access to 16 priests’ personnel files.
Memorial to victims of child abuse expected to be approved by planners
Six entries for scheme at Garden of Remembrance have been shortlisted
The Irish Times Frank McDonald Thu, Apr 11, 2013
Dublin City Council’s planners are expected to approve the winning scheme for a memorial to victims of institutional abuse at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square after they receive further information on the €500,000 project….
The winners say their project “creates a fluid progression between the Garden of Remembrance, which commemorates those who died for the cause of Irish freedom, with a memorial dedicated to the young victims of abuse” in Irish institutions….
The proposal for a memorial was made in the Ryan Report, which said it should “spotlight an episode of significance in the history of the State [and] provide a point of reference with sensory significance that keeps alive the memory of those who suffered loss and pain”….
The site adjacent to the Garden of Remembrance was made available by the OPW for the project, which the memorial committee — appointed by Mr Quinn — said should be “an enduring symbol of lost innocence that inspires others to ensure the protection of all children”.
Mr Quinn said he believed the winning scheme would be “a testimony to one of the darkest chapters in our State’s history and … serve as a constant reminder that we must never let such horrendous crimes against children happen again”….