Berwyn city worker on leave amid abuse allegations

Berwyn, IL

A City of Berwyn employee is on administrative leave pending an investigation into allegations he sexually abused five boys in the 1980s.

Barbara Blaine, founder and president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, submitted a letter to Berwyn City Hall Jan. 14 asking for an investigation into Senior Advocate Frank Paduch.

A civil lawsuit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court against Paduch in 1997 alleging that Paduch, while serving as a theology teacher and soccer coach at St. Rita High School in Chicago, sexually abused a student during the 1980-81 school year. The lawsuit claims the victim, a freshman at St. Rita at the time, was sexually assaulted by Paduch. The suit sought monetary damages for physical and mental anguish.

The suit settled for an undisclosed amount of money two years later. Blaine said two of the additional four alleged victims have come forward through an attorney but have not filed a lawsuit against Paduch.

Paduch hired criminal attorney Robert Lewin to speak on his behalf during the investigation. Lewin said SNAP never contacted Paduch regarding the allegations, and Lewin has not heard from any of Paduch’s alleged victims.

“It’s a good organization, but you’ve got to have some facts from people who have first-hand knowledge,” Lewin said. “They read some lawsuit, which was dismissed, and there’s where they got their facts from.”

Lewin said Paduch has no criminal record and did not inform the City of Berwyn about the civil case before he was hired in 2005.

“He doesn’t have to give his life story on an application,” Lewin said. “I don’t think anyone would dispute that he answered truthfully.”

Berwyn Police Chief William Kushner said Paduch has been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates the allegations.

“There is nothing to indicate that this subject has posed a threat to anyone during his employment in the City of Berwyn,” Kushner said.

Kushner said he did  not know when the investigation would be complete.

Blaine said the issue came to light after two of Paduch’s neighbors of his Berwyn apartment reported their findings on the senior advocate last year.

The neighbors spoke to the Berwyn Life on the condition of anonymity, fearing possible retribution from Paduch. They became suspicious after seeing several visitors at Paduch’s apartment on Roosevelt Road.

“There was young men that he said he’s been counseling or helping out, but it never seemed that way,” one of the neighbors said. “He always had an explanation.”

The two began a search into Paduch on the Internet, where they found the 1997 civil lawsuit. They sat down for a meeting with SNAP this fall.

Paduch’s office is located in the Berwyn Cultural Center at 6420 W. 16th St., which is across the street from Lincoln Middle School.  

“At a bare minimum, the city should warn the kids at the school to stay away from him,” Blaine said.