395 Catholic Church Illinois Priests and Deacons Accused of Sexual Misconduct

“By choosing not to thoroughly investigate allegations, the Catholic Church has failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois,”

CHICAGO – Nearly 400 Catholic clergy members in Illinois have been accused of sexual misconduct, but church officials have only informed congregants of a fraction of those who have faced allegations, according to attorneys who represented clergy sex abuse victims across the USA.

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A 182-page report, published by the Minnesota-based law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates, includes the names, background information, photos and assignment histories of each accused clergy member. 

“The danger of sexual abuse in Illinois is clearly a problem of today, not just the past,” the report concludes. “This will continue to be a danger until the identities and histories of sexually abusive clerics, religious employees and seminarians are made public.”

Anderson said he hopes the report will push church leaders to publicly identify hundreds more clergy who faced allegations.

The men named in the report worked in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield. Dioceses’ officials pushed back on the report’s findings.

The Archdiocese of Chicago, which serves about 2.1 million Catholics, said it “does not “police itself.”

“It reports all allegations to the civil authorities, regardless of the date of the alleged abuse, whether the priest is a diocesan priest or religious order priest, and whether the priest is alive or dead,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

Andrew Hansen, a spokesman for the Springfield Diocese, dismissed the report as “an impressive professional marketing brochure.”

Church-Pews

He noted one of the priests listed in the report, Rev. Frank Martinez, had spent about six weeks in 1985 working as a hospital chaplain in the central Illinois diocese before resigning his position.

The following year Martinez, who was assigned to a parish in Buffalo, Iowa, was accused of propositioning a 15-year-old boy in an Iowa motel room. Martinez was removed from the ministry in 2004. In 2008, he was included on a list by the Davenport Diocese of 24 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.

“(The report) does not represent, as Mr. Anderson suggests, a thorough and diligent review of the publicly available facts, and it is highly misleading and irresponsible,” Hansen said.

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 The Diocese of Joliet in Chicago, Illinois

The Rockford Diocese said in a statement it has not disclosed allegations against many of the clergy on Anderson’s list “because the accusations either have not been substantiated or are completely without merit.”Joliet Diocese officials also said that allegations against some named on Anderson’s list have not been substantiated.

“The list includes a number of priests, living and deceased who, at one time or another provided some ministry within the Diocese of Joliet at some point during their priesthood, but are not priests of the Diocese of Joliet,” the Joliet Diocese said in a statement.

Rockford Diocese officials said they were unaware that one former priest named on the list, Rev. Ivan Rovira, had been found to have committed sexual abuse of a child after he left Northern Illinois in the early 1970s. The Brownsville, Texas Diocese earlier this year placed Rovira on its list of “clergy with credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.”

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Rovira admitted to Brownsville Diocese officials in 2002 that he had sexually abused a boy during his time working in Texas. He was forced to leave the ministry, and later fled to Mexico, according to the Anderson report.

“Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this list, and the list covers the time frame of 1908, when this diocese was established, to the present,” the Rockford Diocese said in its statement. “An allegation against a priest who had an assignment in this diocese but belongs to a religious order or other diocese is referred to the religious order or other diocese to which the priest belongs and is under its jurisdiction.”

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Attorneys culled the names of the clergy named in the report from legal settlements and news reports detailing claims of child sexual abuse. Although lawsuits were filed involving many of the alleged perpetrators, the majority of the claims against the individuals were settled, according to the report.

“We’ve chosen to reveal this information, because the Catholic bishops and religious orders who are in charge and have this information . . . have chosen to conceal it,” Anderson said. 

The six Catholic dioceses of Illinois released the names of 185 clergy members who church officials determined were credibly accused of sexual abuse. The Anderson list includes those who were identified by the Illinois dioceses and more than 200 additional priests and deacons.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who left office in January, issued a preliminary report in December that found there are at least 500 clergy from Illinois’ dioceses who have faced allegations of abuse. The church has not publicly acknowledged or thoroughly investigated those claims, Madigan’s report found. She did not name those accused of misconduct.

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Madigan launched her investigation in August after a landmark Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed claims against more than 300 “predator priests” who had abused at least 1,000 victims over roughly six decades. The former Illinois attorney general said her office was flooded with hundreds of emails and calls from people alleging they were victims of abuse by clergy in Illinois in the aftermath of the Pennsylvania report.

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Madigan is one of at least 14 state attorney generals who have confirmed investigations or reviews after the Pennsylvania report. Madigan’s successor, Kwame Raoul, said before he took office in January that he was committed to continuing the investigation.

“By choosing not to thoroughly investigate allegations, the Catholic Church has failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois,” Madigan said.

Weeks after Madigan released her report, Anderson, along with other attorneys and clergy sex abuse survivors, launched the “Fight for 500” initiative calling on the Illinois dioceses to release the names of clergy.

The list published Wednesday includes priests and deacons whose affiliations in some cases date back decades. Many of the accused have died.

The report notes the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled a civil lawsuit in 2007 alleging the Rev. Robert Boley accosted a young girl in the 1980s. Boley moved to a Chicago parish in 1989 and also served at parishes in Darien, Ill., Englewood, N.J., and Louisville, Ky.

“As of 2007, it was believed that Fr. Boley was residing at the Carmelite House in Joliet, Illinois, and working in their archives,” the report says. “Fr. Boley’s current whereabouts, status as a priest, and whether he has access to children are unknown.”

In another case, the report says David Stalzer, an ordained priest in the Joliet diocese, faced a civil lawsuit in 1993, in which he was accused of child sexual abuse while he was working at a diocese parish.

“It is believed that Fr. Stalzer returned to active duty later that year under supervision and purportedly with limited contact with children,” according to the report.

The suit was dismissed in 1994 after the accuser dropped out of sight, according to the Joliet Herald-News. Stalzer died in 2001.

The list includes one priest who is in active ministry, Anderson said.

Bad men

The priest, who is assigned to a parish on Chicago’s North Side, was temporarily removed from his position in December 2013 after the archdiocese received reports of him molesting a child at another Chicago-area parish where he worked 20 years earlier.

The Chicago Archdiocese reinstated the priest into active ministry months later, after law enforcement found insufficient evidence to prosecute him.

Days after he was reinstated, another man came forward and said he saw the same priest molest a teenage boy at a suburban fitness center. The Cook County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation, but the claim was never substantiated no charges were filed.

Anderson defended putting the priest on the list even though authorities had not corroborated the allegations.

“(He) may be innocent, but given the fact that are two public allegations that have been made against him, we feel and believe that it needs to be publicly disclosed as somebody who has been publicly accused and not adjudicated,” Anderson said.

Church Worship Leader Jordan Baird Sentenced to ONLY 8 Months for Sexual Abuse of Minor

Prosecutors said Baird is a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” who groomed the girl for abuse, sent her sexually-suggestive messages and groped her multiple times at the Life Church between January and September 2015.

Approximately one month after he was convicted and jurors recommended he spend five months in prison for five counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor, Jordan Baird, a Christian pop singer and the son of Senior Pastors David and Jo Ann Baird of The Life Church in Virginia, was sentenced to eight months in jail.

Jordan’s legal troubles started July 7, 2016, when detectives from the Special Victims Unit of the Prince William County Police Department in Virginia responded to investigate inappropriate contact, which was reported to have occurred at Life Church in Manassas in 2015. The youth leader was convicted of five felony sex crimes with a minor in connection with an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old member of the congregation. The jury failed to reach a verdict on the charge of using electronic means to commit a sex crime with a minor Baird was facing. It is not yet clear if prosecutors will re-try that charge.

 

 

Jurors recommended Baird serve one month in jail for each conviction — five months total. Baird was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with the teenage girl who looked up to him as a mentor and considered him family, according to court testimony.

Prosecutors said Baird is a “deceiver, a manipulator and a sexual predator” who groomed the girl for abuse, sent her sexually-suggestive messages and groped her multiple times at the Life Church between January and September 2015. The teen testified during the trial she refused Baird’s unwanted sexual advances and told him what he was doing was wrong on more than one occasion.

Baird’s defense attorney, Todd Sanders, said his client crossed an emotional line when he sent the girl inappropriate messages. But the attorney said no touching took place and maintained his client’s actions did not violate any laws.

Sanders questioned the girl’s recollection of the alleged abuse and why she waited nearly a year to tell anyone about it. The defense attorney said the teen’s early accounts of what happened left out certain details and suggested people around her may have influenced her recovered memories.

Sanders suggested the anxiety the girl felt was caused by her fear that a young man she had feelings for would find out about the messages Baird sent her.

“She had everything to lose and nothing to gain,” the attorney said. “This church was everything to her. Jordan was a leader to her. He was like a big brother.” 

When asked why she didn’t immediately report the alleged abuse, the girl said she was “torn” about what to do because she didn’t want to lose her friends, her church family and all the volunteer opportunities the Life Church provided her. She said she worried the church would take Baird’s side because he is the son of the head pastor and told the girl he would take the secret “to the grave.”

“I remember feeling so stuck and no matter what, no one would believe me,” the teen testified. “I thought once I came forward I would lose everything.”

 

When she did come forward, the girl said her friends defended the church and turned on her. Jeremiyah Mullens, a former Life Church congregant, said other members called the girl “slurs” and “took the position that she was wrong in the situation.”

In June 2016, the teen said she told her mother Baird sent inappropriate messages to her after feelings of guilt and anxiety became so severe she couldn’t get out of bed that day. But the girl said she didn’t tell her mother the full story at that time because she knew it would mean her life would be turned upside down. 

“For so long, I tried to suppress everything and forget everything that happened,” she said. “But it all started to come back to me.”

When police came to interview the teen a couple of weeks later, she told them Baird inappropriately touched her but did not fully disclose every detail at that point either.

Renae Smith, the teen’s counselor, testified she diagnosed the girl with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The counselor said it’s common for those with PTSD to “disassociate” during abuse as a coping mechanism, which can later lead to gaps in memory.

But when a person with PTSD does start to remember their trauma, Smith said, they have vivid flashbacks to that moment and what took place becomes very clear to them. Smith said PTSD can delay memories but does not alter them. The doctor testified she has no reason to believe the teen is lying about the abuse.

“What I witnessed was a deep, spontaneous emotion,” Smith said. “You can tell when someone is genuine.”

 When the girl’s mother was asked why she didn’t immediately report the allegations to police, she said she didn’t know the full extent of what happened and her main concern was taking care of her daughter, who suffered a severe panic attack.

“I think I was in shock,” the girl’s mother said. “I wasn’t sure what to do. I’ve never been in a situation like this before.”

The teen’s father testified his family wanted to bring the allegations to light within the church first because they “believed the church would do the right thing.”

The parents said they asked the church to bring in a third-party to investigate what took place. But the church selected Steve Dawson, a close friend of the Bairds’ who was once a co-pastor at the church, the parents said.

“That was not a third party, obviously,” the girl’s father said.

Dawson testified he does not have a background in law enforcement or conducting investigations. He said Baird admitted sending inappropriate messages to the girl, but nothing else. While Gross questioned Dawson on the witness stand, he suggested Dawson left out key details he learned during his internal investigation when he was interviewed by police and refused to hand his notes over to law-enforcement officials.

The teen’s father said he recorded a meeting with Dawson in which he told the pastor Baird touched his daughter. On the stand, Dawson said he didn’t “recall” the father saying this. 

Gross also suggested through his questioning that the Life Church’s law firm instructed and advised Dawson through his investigation. 

The prosecutor pointed out Baird disclosed more information to Dawson than he did to police.

Gross attempted to introduce the testimonies of three other women who say Baird used his power in the church and his notoriety as a Christian pop singer to manipulate them into having inappropriate relationships and performing sex acts in the church. One of the girls was underage at the time of the alleged misconduct, the prosecutor said. But the judge wouldn’t allow the women’s testimonies because he said the information would be highly prejudicial in the criminal trial, citing case law.

‘Prophet’ Among 3 Pastors Charged for Sex With Minors; Teen Allegedly Aborted Pregnancy

Pastor Kenneth Butler of Kingdom Encounter Family Worship Center in Toledo, Ohio, was arrested last week and slapped with federal sex trafficking charges, joining two other well-known area pastors behind bars.

Authorities say Butler’s case is related to the cases of the Rev. Cordell Jenkins, 46, and the Rev. Anthony Haynes, 38. Jenkins founded and was pastor of Abundant Life Ministries while Haynes led the Greater Life Christian Center, according to the Toledo Blade. They were arrested on April 7 by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents for sex trafficking of children. The pastors are said to have knowingly recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided or obtained a person under the age of 18, WTOL said.

Haynes is alleged to have been sexually exploiting juveniles for the last three years dating back to when one of the juveniles involved was 14 years old.

Butler’s accuser states in a redacted affidavit that she met him when she was 15 years old at Haynes’ church. Shortly after meeting the minor, according to the document, Butler told her he wanted to have sex with her.

“Specifically, while in the parking lot of Hayne’s church, Butler told her he wanted to have sex with her in the front seat of his car and that he would make her [redacted].” The sexual conversation was interrupted, however, by a church member who approached the car.

When the minor turned 16, however, “she had sex with Butler in his vehicle in the City of Toledo. Approximately one month later, she felt pregnant and took several Plan B pills she believed terminated the pregnancy.Another time, the minor described having sex with Butler, 37, inside his vehicle in an alley off the Anthony Wayne Trail. “Immediately following the sex, Butler placed money on the center console for her. [She] took the money and later purchased food for her and her siblings. [She] stated while she had sex with him again, he did not pay her on that occasion,” the affidavit said.

Butler, who calls himself a prophet on his Facebook page, claimed in the affidavit after confessing to sex with the minor that the money he gave her was not for sex.

Celia Williamson, director of the Human Trafficking and Social Justice Institute, told WTOL that Butler groomed and exploited his victim.

“In my eyes he was learning her vulnerabilities, her love of God, and her faith, and he used that, twisted that perhaps, to lure her into what he wanted. It had nothing to do with God, Jesus or anything good,” Williamson said.

In a video apology prior to being arrested, Butler did not specifically mention the charges against him.

“Before things blow up … I wanted to … just apologize. I don’t believe I’ve done it on purpose. I try not to do anything on purpose but … if I Kenneth Butler … have done anything in any way to offend you to make you feel bad to make you see God or me different … I wanted to get on here and make a public apology,” he said.

“It’s never my intention to hurt or displease God. Let alone you the people. My heart’s desire is only that we please God and do the work that he has assigned us to do. I know sometimes because of who we are and who we are connected to our assignments can get twisted up and things happen. So in this season I said be very careful. Be very careful of your connections,” he said.

Butler was held due to a recording by Haynes’ wife.

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