Abels & Annes

Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

Mccormack.jpgWorking with co-counsel, the sexual abuse lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. filed two new lawsuits today on behalf of alleged victims of former Catholic Priest Father Daniel McCormack. The legal team responsible for these two new cases has successfully represented other victims of Father McCormack in the past and secured a $3.15 million settlement on behalf of one such client earlier this year. All cases were filed anonymously to protect the identity of the victims of Father McCormack who were sexually abused while minors and in association with the Catholic Church.

Father McCormack began his career with the Catholic Church as a seminarian in 1986. McCormack trained and learned under the Archdiocese of Chicago while preparing to become a minister where allegations of sexual misconduct by Father McCormack began as early as his seminarian days and continued over the decades that followed.

McCormack was appointed Sacramental Minister at Holy Family Parish in 1998, a position he held for some time and one which allowed him individual and unsupervised interactions with minors. Following his time at Holy Family Parish, McCormack served as a Priest at Saint Agatha’s Parish in Chicago where he also served as a teacher and a boys’ basketball coach. Numerous alleged victims of Father McCormack have come forward and claimed that they were sexually abused during McCormack’s time at Saint Agatha’s.

The new lawsuits filed by Abels & Annes, working with co-counsel, claim that each of the six victims was abused by McCormack and that the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal George, and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago knew or should have known of McCormack’s misconduct. Despite McCormack’s actions and credible allegations made against him, the lawsuits allege that the Archdiocese and those in charge did not act reasonably and did not remove McCormack from his position or prevent Father McCormack from having additional unsupervised contact with minors.

Father McCormack eventually was arrested twice and criminally charged with sexually abusing several minor boys. In 2007, McCormack pleaded guilty to charges of abusing five boys and was incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections in association with those pleas.
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Rome%20118.jpg Victims of sexual abuse associated with members of the clergy of the Catholic Church have come forward in recent decades to tell their stories and inform the public of the wrongs to which they were subjected. Though each individual story varies among the victims, several themes remain true: young children were sexually assaulted by a small segment of priests and in some cases, the actions of these priests were concealed or covered up by higher ranking officials.

The news that children have suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church is no longer new but steps taken recently by Pope Francis are, or at least his actions seem to signal a shift in the treatment of these victims by the highest ranking members of the Church.

For the first time in his papacy, Pope Francis met with six victims of Catholic Church sexual abuse on Sunday evening and again on Monday. The victims were from three European nations and took place within the confines of Vatican City. Though the prior pope, Benedict XVI, met with victims during his regin as head of the Church, those meetings took place as Pope Benedict XVI traveled. The meetings held by Pope Francis are the first reported to occur on the grounds of the Vatican.

According to Church officials, the Pope met with the six victims, who have not been identified by name or age, on Sunday evening before participating with them in a Monday morning mass. Reportedly, Pope Benedict met with each victim individually as well and discussed the abuse the victims had suffered. Officials have reported that the Pope begged for the forgiveness of the victims, both for the abuse but also for the actions of Church officials who acted to obscure or cover up the crimes.

Some are now claiming that Pope Francis’ actions this week indicate a shift in the perception of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and a renewed effort to put the needs of victims first. Yet for many who have suffered at the hands of those they trusted most, the Pope’s actions may be too little, too late.
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photo%202%20%284%29.jpg The sexual abuse lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C., working with co-counsel, have represented several alleged victims of former Father Daniel McCormack, a man once employed by the Archdiocese of Chicago. During his time with the church, allegations began to surface of sexual improprieties between McCormack and multiple children, all of whom were minors and all of whom had regular, unsupervised interactions with McCormack.

The allegations began during McCormack’s days as a seminarian but no action against McCormack was taken for years. In 1994, McCormack was ordained a priest and began his ministry services as such with the church, a position he maintained until 2006. He served many roles in several churches including assignments at Holy Family Parish and Saint Agatha’s Parish. At times during his employment, McCormack coached the boys’ basketball team.

Years after allegations of sexual misconduct initially arose, McCormack was arrested and criminally charged with committing crimes against several minor boys. In 2007, McCormack pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of children under the age of 13, crimes that led to a prison sentence. Since 2009, McCormack has been confined to the Illinois Department of Human Services’ facility in Rushville, Illinois as a petition to keep McCormack detained indefinitely under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act is being considered in court.

On Wednesday, a judge issued an arrest warrant for McCormack in relation to a 2005 incident with a 10-year-old boy. Authorities are charging McCormack with aggravated criminal sexual abuse in response to the alleged event and McCormack is expected to appear in court today on that charge.

Incidents involving former Father McCormack have been covered heavily in recent years as more and more alleged victims continue to step forward and make claims of abuse against McCormack. In addition, many have claimed that the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal George knew or should have known of the alleged abuse yet they took no actions to stop or prevent it, allowing the abuse to continue over decades and exposing numerous additional victims as a result.
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20130613_095207.jpg In the past few years, many victims of sexual abuse have come forward with their stories and accused former Catholic priest Daniel McCormack of sexual molestation, misconduct, or other sexual crimes against them when they were young and under the supervision of McCormack. Up until now, all of these victims have chosen to remain anonymous to protect their true identity from being publicly released.

That changed yesterday when a 27-year-old Chicago man came forward and identified himself by his legal name. The man has claimed that McCormack began sexually abusing him in 1994 at Saint Ailbe parish, located on Chicago’s south side. At the time, the victim was a fourth grade student at the parish school and that the abuse continued through 1996. During that time, the victim was associated with the school basketball and football teams as well as baptism classes, all of which were coached or taught by McCormack.

The victim stated publicly that he chose to come forward publicly instead of doing so anonymously to help address a culture of secrecy that occurs with childhood sexual abuse and what the victim, who is African-American, calls a “don’t tell” policy in the African-American community.

After multiple allegations against McCormack were made and a review of his position concluded, he was eventually removed from his post with the Archdiocese of Chicago and criminally charged with sexual abuse of several minors. McCormack pleaded guilty to the charges and is currently confined in a mental health facility.

Being a victim of sexual abuse often leads to physical and psychological injuries. In many individuals, these injuries last a lifetime and can lead to high rates of depression, substance abuse, suicide, and in the case of children who are sexually abused, mistrust of authority figures. Often these damages are compounded by the fact that treatment may not be sought and the victims may never properly deal with the sexual abuse.

The law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C. does not represent the victim who came forward yesterday with his claim of abuse but does represent several other alleged victims of former priest Daniel McCormack. In 2011, Abels & Annes, P.C., working with co-counsel, settled a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal George, and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago involving sexual abuse of a minor by former Rev. Daniel McCormack in the amount of $3.2 million dollars, $300,000 of which was placed in escrow for services. The identify of the plaintiff and his family in that settlement remain confidential.
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20130613_095216.jpg The director of youth ministry at the First Congressional Church of Dundee has been accused of having sexual contact with a minor in early June. The contact reportedly occurred at the church and the minister has been taken into custody.

The accused minister is a 31-year-old male from Elgin. His arrest has been confirmed by the senior pastor at First Congressional Church of Dundee which declined to say how long the youth minister had been an employee. The senior pastor said the church was unaware of any allegations of sexual contact made against the minister before the time of his arrest on Tuesday. The church reports that it is cooperating with police during their investigation and that the church’s priority is justice for those involved.

The church has placed the minister, who was in charge of youths between sixth and 12th grades, on leave. Detailed information about the alleged victim, including the victim’s age, have not been released nor have the specific charges against the minister been disclosed.

If substantiated, these claims will truly be tragic. Parents entrust ministers with the care and education of their children and should never find their children to be the victims of a sexual predator. Unfortunately, cases like this occur often in Illinois. The sad fact is that many child predators seek positions that allow them access to children in an unsupervised capacity, either by working with a church, being a coach of a sports team, or even a teacher in a public or private school.
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1374666.jpgToday Illinois sex abuse attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., working with co-counsel filed three additional lawsuits on behalf of three plaintiffs who allege they were sexually abused by former Chicago priest Daniel McCormack when they were minors. The lawsuits name Cardinal Francis George, the Catholic Bishop of Chicago, and the Archdiocese of Chicago as defendants.

To protect their identities and the identities of their families, the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit anonymously through the use of pseudonyms (such as John Doe). The plaintiffs allege that they were around Daniel McCormack during their school days at St. Agatha’s parish. During that time, McCormack was a priest at St. Agatha’s parish and St. Agatha’s rectory and for some time was a coach of the boy’s basketball team.

The lawsuits allege that through his interactions with the plaintiffs, McCormack exerted an inappropriate presence over the plaintiffs that included sexual touching and contact. The lawsuits further state that allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior had been launched previously against McCormack and that officials failed to take any action to remove McCormack from his post or prevent his access to children. The earliest complaints brought to the Church’s attention were back when McCormack was still in seminary, the suit alleges, but Archdiocese officials still failed to take action to prevent further sexual abuse.

The lawsuit continues to claim that the Church failed to warn the students, their families, and the public of the allegations against McCormack and allowed these individuals to spend solitary time with McCormack, enabling the abuse that occurred. Instead of issuing warnings, McCormack was promoted and was eventually named pastor of St. Agatha’s in 2000.

When police learned of the alleged abuse, an investigation was initiated and McCormack was arrested in 2005. Even after his arrest and a recommendation by a review board for McCormack’s removal, the Church waited until McCormack was arrested a second time in 2006 before it took the necessary steps to remove him from his position with the Church.

McCormack was eventually charged with molesting several minor boys through his interactions with them at St. Agatha’s. He pleaded guilty to charges of sexually abusing five boys and was sentenced to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

In 2011, the sexual abuse lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C., working with co-counsel, settled a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago, Cardinal George, and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago involving sexual abuse of a minor boy by former Rev. Daniel McCormack for $3.2 million, $300,000 of which was placed in escrow for services. The identity of that plaintiff and his family remain confidential.
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Documents released Tuesday show that Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus, more commonly referred to as the Chicago Jesuits, knew of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct against a former priest and took steps to actively cover up the allegations for 40 years. 1418812_walking_away.jpg

The former priest at issue, Donald McGuire, has been criminally convicted of sexual abuse of some minors but to date, officials have identified 28 people who identify themselves as victims. Of these, eight have filed lawsuits thus far.

The documents detailed claims made against the defrocked Jesuit priest as well as naming numerous superiors who had knowledge of the sexual impropriety that was occurring. Instead of subjecting McGuire to sanctions, punishment, or informing the police, the Chicago Jesuits concealed the allegations and arranged transfers of McGuire to new posts.

The documents, coupled with the criminal conviction of McGuire and the claims of several abused men, led to a $19.6 million settlement to conclude the claims of six victims. The settlement was reached in January and was publicly reported this week.

Victims have stated that the abuse began for some of them in the 1960s and occurred as late as 2004. During this time, McGuire held many positions within the church, including work at Loyola Academy in Wilmette and Loyola University in Chicago. McGuire also reportedly traveled on mission trips with some young men that took him out of the country and around the world where some victims have stated the abuse continued.

Sexual abuse is a sensitive and serious area of the law with many potential complications. Though these cases have received increased publicity in recent years, some facts are not often brought to light. The truth is that many victims of sexual assault suffer from their injuries for decades or even the remainder of their lives. It can affect a victim’s personal relationships with family and friends, ability to work and hold down a job, ability to cope with stresses and complications in life, as well as a number of other issues.
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A suburban Frankfort pediatrician who was recently charged with sexually abusing women in his medical office is now facing a number of civil lawsuits related to the allegations. A lawsuit recently filed in Will County alleges that the physician groped a young mother who brought her small child to his office for a medical examination. At least two other women have reportedly filed similar cases, and prosecutors allege the doctor may have sexually assaulted at least 10 women ranging in age from 22 to 30.

In February, the pediatrician’s license to practice medicine was suspended by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation. In early March, an administrative law judge ordered the suspension to last indefinitely after the doctor allegedly refused to testify at a hearing on the matter that was held in Chicago. The physician purportedly parted ways with the clinic he was practicing at prior to the hearing. In 2002, the pediatrician was apparently acquitted on similar charges after a Joliet mother accused him of sexually assaulting her.

In addition to criminal charges, the perpetrator of sexual abuse may also be sued in a civil case like those filed in this situation. The victim of sexual assault may be entitled to recover compensation from his or her abuser, as well as other entities, such as a school, hospital, church, or nursing home if the abuse occurred on the business or organization’s premises and inadequate safety measures somehow led to the assault.

Tragically, the victims of sexual assault in Illinois and elsewhere are purportedly three times more likely to suffer from depression than the average American. Additionally, victims are reportedly four times more likely to consider suicide, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, and 26 times more likely to develop a drug addiction. In Illinois and throughout the country, an estimated 15 percent of sexual abuse victims are children under the age of 12, and 44 percent are minors who are under the age of 18. About 93 percent of sexually abused children knew their attacker before they were assaulted. In many cases, sexual assault results in lifelong emotional and psychological harm. If you or your child was sexually assaulted, you are advised to contact a skilled personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.
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https://www.chicagopersonalinjurylawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/87/2015/11/Screen-Shot-2013-04-05-at-11.51.03-AM.pngRecently, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Catholic Diocese of Joliet has turned over personnel files to one of the survivors of sexual abuse that occurred under its watch. These files demonstrate that clergy sexual abuse for this diocese had previously been underreported. Although the shuffling of pedophile priests around the world is now a well-known phenomenon, these personnel files show that the errors at the Diocese of Joliet go back six decades and affect more than one hundred victims.

One of the victims, for example, was sexually abused during his first confession. The bishop later apologized and offered him more than six times than he earned annually as an electrician, but the victim demanded that the diocese do more than pay money. He asked them to turn over their secret archives on pedophile priests so that the public could review them. The diocese fought this demand for a year before turning over personnel files for 16 out of 34 priests against whom significant complaints of sexual abuse were made.

There were more than 7,000 records that showed how the diocese protected abusive priests, in the process misleading parishioners and leaving children subject to further abuse. Church officials have stated that about 4% of priests in the United States committed sexual abuse against a child between 1950-2002. The rate at the Diocese of Joliet was more than twice this national rate.
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1265010_pencils_and_pens%20sxchu%20username%20nicephoto.jpgDistrict 95 in Suburban Lake Zurich has reportedly settled one of two lawsuits that allege the school board ignored complaints that an award-winning Lake Zurich High School teacher was engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct with teenage boys. In 2010, former English and Drama teacher Ronald D. Culver was criminally charged with molesting two of his students. He later entered into a plea agreement and served about half of a two-year prison sentence. 54-year-old Culver is reportedly now on parole and required to register as a sex offender.

According to a lawsuit filed against Culver and the Lake Zurich School District, Superintendent, and Principal, parents of one of the boys alerted school officials to the sexual abuse about eight months before Culver was arrested. The case also alleges that administrators committed negligence by failing to report complaints about Culver to authorities and failing to prevent the alleged sexual abuse. Despite the settlement, Lake Zurich School District officials have purportedly denied mishandling the abuse allegations. A similar case is reportedly pending against the district and Culver in Lake County Circuit Court.

Thankfully, the boys involved in this situation felt comfortable enough to report their abuse. Oftentimes, children who were sexually abused by a trusted adult wait to come forward as a result of fear or embarrassment. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for sexual abuse of a child is longer than for other types of personal injury cases. Since 2011, those who were sexually abused as a child have until their 38th birthday to file a lawsuit against their abuser, school, church, or other organization that failed to protect them. Additionally, a victim of childhood sexual assault who has repressed their memories of the abuse has 20 years from the date he or she realized the abuse occurred during which to file a lawsuit. Minors who were sexually assaulted in Illinois prior to 2011 may face a reduced statute of limitations. If you were sexually abused as a child, you are advised to contact a quality personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
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