Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet Settles Claims of 14 Individuals Who Were Abused By Priests

CHICAGO, April 14, 2015 – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet has agreed to pay $4,137,500 to resolve the claims of fourteen (14) men who were the victims of abuse by priests of the Diocese from the 1960’s through the 1980’s.  The men are represented by the Chicago-based law firm of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, PC., and the Seattle-based firm of Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC.

Four of the men had previously filed suit in the Will County Circuit Court.  The ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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