Thousands of pages of documents released April 30 by a Chicago law firm detail decades of sexual abuse by DuPage County priests and the protection they allegedly received from the Diocese of Joliet.
The files of 16 priests accused of abuse, long held confidential by the diocese, were obtained and released by Jeff Anderson and Associates to coincide with five new lawsuits filed by the firm against four offenders.
The documents show a pattern of secrecy from Joliet diocese bishops, who regularly failed to remove or report priests accused of child sexual abuse, instead moving them to new parishes where they would often repeat the behavior.
The suits brought by the firm seek an unspecified settlement for damages suffered by victims in the '60s, '70s and early '80s. They also seek a court order that "[stops] practices that imperil children and requires them to come clean and publicly disclose files of all [priests accused of abuse]," Anderson said Thursday.
The recently released files are a portion of 34 sought by the firm, he said.
Diocese spokesman Ed Flavin said that, in accordance with common business practice, the diocese does not release confidential files of employees, and the 16 files turned over to the firm were done so under court order.
"We do, however, share any and all information which is relevant to an ongoing investigation with law enforcement or as instructed to do so by the court," Flavin said. "We make available any and all credible allegations of priests on our website."
In a statement, the Diocese of Joliet said it had not yet been served with the five lawsuits filed in Will County, and would "respond in an appropriate forum" once it reviewed the specifics of the pleadings.
"Anyone who may have been sexually abused as a minor by a member of the clergy, employee or volunteer of the diocese is urged to report the abuse to civil authorities and to the diocese," the statement read. "Reports may be made to any pastor or by contacting the diocese’s Director for the Office of Child and Youth Protection at 815-221-6116.
"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. They ask the Lord for healing for all His people who suffer for what has happened in their midst. With God’s help, the diocese will continue to do its best to assure the safety of its children."
To view the documents, visit www.abusedinchicago.com.
Former Woodridge priests accused
The documents detail accusations toward two former Woodridge priests, and how the diocese handled allegations of sexual abuse against them.
The Rev. John Slown and the Rev. Phillip Dedera served as assistant pastors at St. Scholastica Parish in the late 60s and mid 80s, respectively. Neither were accused of sexual abuse during their short tenures in Woodridge.
Slown, who served at St. Scholastica from June 1968 until February 1969, is accused of sexually abusing "dozens" and even seducing parents "to get to kids," the lawsuit states.
To view the 523-page document regarding Slown, visit shawurl.com/15cb.
Dedera, who served as assistant pastor at St. Scholastica from June 1984 to April 1986, is accused of sexually abusing teenage boys over his 35-year tenure as a priest.
To view the 395-page document regarding Dedera, visit shawurl.com/15cd.