More pages released on Joliet Diocese’s sex abuse scandal
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org March 21, 2013 10:10PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 2:41PM
In 1975, during a sleepover at Immaculate Conception Parish in Braidwood, the Rev. Donald O’Connor challenged a teenage boy to a card game.
The winner got to fondle the loser’s genitals, O’Connor decided, according to a confidential memo recently released by the Diocese of Joliet.
The boy purposely lost so he wouldn’t have to touch the priest, the memo says, and he locked himself in a bathroom after O’Connor followed through with his suggested prize.
Despite the incident and other allegations of abuse, O’Connor stayed in ministry for 22 years in Braidwood, at St. Bernard Parish in Joliet and at Assumption Parish in Coal City, before he was placed on administrative leave in 2002, according to diocesan records.
They are among thousands of pages of documents released recently as part of a legal settlement Chicago attorney Terrence M. Johnson obtained for his client, David Rudofski, who was sexually abused by a former pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Mokena.
The Rev. James Burnett became pastor at St. Mary’s in Mokena in 1978 and served at the parish from 1974 to 1990. He also served at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bensenville from 1968 to 1974 and was removed from ministry in 2006, according to the diocese.
The lawsuit against Burnett in Will County Circuit Court involved three victims, with Rudofski being the last to settle. Johnson said Rudofski was first abused at age 8 during his First Confession.
Johnson said that since Circuit Court Judge Michael Powers ordered the documents released to Rudofski on March 13, he has heard from others who were victims of sexual abuse by priests.
“I’ve been receiving many calls asking me to congratulate David Rudofski for being courageous enough to hold out to make sure these documents go public,” Johnson said.
Among those named in the documents is the Rev. Lawrence Mullins, who was assigned to St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet in 1977. Almost immediately, Mullins began sexually molesting grade schoolers at St. Raymond’s, according to the documents.
Students nicknamed him “Gacy,” after notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and boys on the eighth-grade basketball team reported that the last one to finish changing in the locker room after practices risked being forcibly groped by Mullins, records say.
A spokesman for the diocese has said he doubts the documents will be much of a revelation because the “sexual abuse of minors has been going on for decades” in society.
“We’ve learned from that,” spokesman Jim Dwyer said. “So has the rest of the society by the way. We continue to learn about this issue.”
But Johnson said he believed Catholics will be surprised to learn details of how much the Joliet Diocese bishops knew over the years and how they handled the problem.
The diocese has posted online the names of 34 priests who were identified by the diocese as having faced credible or substantiated charges of sexual abuse. Nine of the names were added last week after the settlement.
The diocese was the first to announce the settlement, posting a statement on its website last week. In the statement, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, who became bishop 19 months ago, commented on the extent of sex abuse cases in the Joliet Diocese and how they were mishandled.
“Unfortunately the dark cloud of the history of child abuse in this diocese has imposed itself almost every day,” Conlon said. “The abuse itself and the way it was handled in many cases have created serious harm to the lives of individuals, parish communities and the whole diocese.”
Contributing: Bob Okon