Joliet priest sex abuse files released

The files of 16 Joliet priests accused of sexually abusing children were released to the public Wednesday.
April 29, 2014 10:00:00 PM PDT
The files of 16 Joliet priests accused of sexually abusing children were released to the public Wednesday.

DOWNLOAD: Joliet Priest Files / Bishop Imesch Deposition

The priests' files, made up of about 7,000 documents, were released by a Chicago law firm. Lawyer Jeff Anderson also announced that five lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Joliet because it "failed to do the right thing."

David Rudofski and others allege church leaders at the Joliet Diocese knew about the abuse for years and did little about it. Rudofski sued to get the records, which attorneys say prove the diocese knew what was going on.

Rudofski, 38, said the day of his first confession was the day his abuse began. He was 8 years old.

"You can never really move forward in the future and protect children if you don't realize what you've done in the past and how to correct those actions," Rudofski said. "If I can just save one child in all of this, the long road I went through to get here today, every bit of that heartache will be worth it."

The files include allegations of sexual abuse against 16 of the 34 priests in the diocese believed to have abused children. Most have been disciplined, left the priesthood, or died. Some, like Fred Lenczycki, have served time in prison.

The released files of abuse allegations, which were all found "credible" by the Joliet Diocese, Anderson said, refer to James Janssen, Salvatore Formusa, Leonardo Mateo, Donald Pock, James Frederick, John Slown, Carroll 'Pud' Howlin, Donald O'Conner, James Burnett, Michael Gibbney, Frederick Lenczycki, Phillip Dedera, Anthony Ross, Lawrence Gibbs, William Virtue, and Lawrence Mullins.

On Wednesday, the law firm also released a transcript of a 2005 video deposition of the former leader of the diocese, Bishop Joseph Imesch. When asked, "Have you? ever reported any information pertaining to any clergy committing child sexual abuse to civil or law enforcement authorities?" Imesch said, "No."

He was also asked, "Is it correct to say that you knowingly continued priests in ministry until the charter required their removal and you knew that credible allegation had been made against those clergymen, correct?" Imesch said, "Yes. Yes."

"Bishop Imesch is as bad, if not worse than every one of these offenders," Mark Pearlman, attorney, said. "He knew about it. He allowed it to happen and did nothing about it."

"These bishops had the power to remove the predators . . . and have chosen not to," Barbara Dorris, SNAP, said.

The Joliet Archdiocese released a statement that it had not yet been served with the five lawsuits. The statement read, in part, "Dealing with the tragic history of child abuse is part of the Church's ministry today. The people of the Diocese of Joliet pray every day for those who have been abused and for those responsible for it."

"Today is designed to reveal some of the secrets of the past, and invite the current bishop to step up, come clean and make the choice to protect the kids over the offenders," Anderson.

In January, priest sex abuse files on 30 Chicago Archdiocese priests were made public. They show how the church often shielded priests and failed to report child sex abuse to authorities.

The Diocese of Joliet encompasses seven counties just to the west and southwest of Chicago. It serves nearly 655,000 parishioners, including 39,000 students at 68 schools and three universities.


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