Illinois man sues Vatican in sex abuse case against priest

An Illinois man is suing Pope Benedict XVI and senior Vatican officials, claiming they failed to protect him from sexual assault as a teenager from a Wisconsin priest they knew was a possible child molester, the Chicago Breaking News Center reported.

The case is the latest in a long string of claims against the Catholic Church in the Chicago area and across the nation. As we reported on our Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer blog last summer, the church paid $3.9 million to settle with six victims who reported sexual abuse by priests.

Identified in court papers as John Doe 16, the man said he was repeatedly molested by a priest while a student at St. John’s School for the deaf in the Milwaukee area.

The lawsuit claims the abuse occurred over a number of years and included incidents in which the priest solicited sex in the confessional. The priest taught at the school from 1950 until 1974. He died in 1998 and stands accused of sexually abusing some 200 boys at the school.

The charges against the priest recently drew renewed scrutiny after documents suggested that a Vatican office headed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger failed to aggressively discipline Murphy. Ratzinger is now the Pope.

John Doe 16 reported that he wrote two letters to the Vatican asking for help. Court documents suggest Vatican officials failed to discipline Murphy because he was a successful fundraiser.

A Vatican spokesman said previously that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not informed of the Murphy case until 20 years after the diocese knew of the allegations. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the office charged with investigating sex crimes by members of the clergy.