Archdiocese paid out $1.4M in now dismissed case

December 18, 2009 4:43:29 AM PST
A priest sex abuse case that dates back more than 20 years has been dismissed. An attorney for Father Czeslaw Przybylo said it's the fist instance in Chicago where an accused priest has been vindicated. Father Czeslaw Przybylo said he went to court to try to clear his name. However, critics argue the case was dismissed not because he was innocent- but because it exceeded the statute of limitations.

Father Czeslaw Przybylo spoke with ABC7 about allegations that he molested a 13-year-old boy while serving at Five Holy Martyrs Church in Chicago in the late 1980s. The Archdiocese of Chicago settled the case for more than $1 million.

The accusations by the former altar boy against the priest date back more than 20 years. The accuser, who is now in his 30s, claimed the Polish priest sexually abused him starting in 1987.

He filed a civil suit against Father Przybylo three years ago, but a court dismissed the charges Monday. The priest, who has continued to serve at Shrine of Christ the King Church in Winfield, said he feels like a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

"I suffered a lot so you know, you have to go on the cross, you go on the cross... There is the resurrection," said Fr. Czeslaw Przybylo, Shrine of Christ the King.

Father Przybylo served as a visiting priest from Poland at the Five Holy Martyrs Church on the Southwest Side at the time of the alleged assaults, but he serves under the Archdiocese in Poland. And the congregation at his current church has stood by him since the charges were leveled more than three years ago that allowed him to fight the charges.

"He is in a unique position because he is a bishop who is in Europe and the archdiocese couldn't control him or silence him," said Walter Maksym, Przybylo's attorney.

A DCFS investigation into the altar boy's accusations found? "After a thorough evaluation we have determined the report to be unfounded."

The Chicago archdiocese nevertheless settled with the victim for about $1.4 million. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said that's evidence that church leaders believe the boy.

"The victim has suffered horribly, that's why the archdiocese paid what they paid. The boy should never have been abused," said SNAP President Barbara Blaine.

Father Przybylo has maintained his innocence all along- and said he always tried to help his accuser as he was growing up-- and some of his actions were apparently misinterpreted. He feels vindicated now, but is more upset with the archdiocese than his accuser.

"I felt fully betrayed," said Father Czeslaw. "It's a lot of money. It's a lot of people's sweat and tears."

Cardinal George has not commented on the matter. An archdiocese spokesperson confirms the settlement.

Father Przybylo said he feels no animosity against his accuser and he would welcome a meeting with him.


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