Accused child molester to retire
Clergy sex abuse victims protested him last month
Former priest now works for Advocate Health Care
For 2nd time, he is allowed to quietly resign without any consequences
A former Chicago Catholic priest who now works for Advocate Health Care and was the subject of controversy last month will retire soon, his employer said.
In a letter received yesterday by SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Kevin Brady, Advocate’s Chief Human Rights officer and senior vice president, says that Russell L. Romano will leave the firm at the end of this month.
In 2006, as part of a settlement of clergy sex abuse lawsuits, the Chicago archdiocese admitted that Romano had been credibly accused of molesting at least one child. In 2009, a civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit against Romano and the archdiocese was settled.
Nonetheless, Romano went on to become a licensed counselor. He worked at Advocate for 12 years.
“Romano should be fired. And those who hired him - Advocate Health and the Chicago archdiocese - should aggressively seek out others who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes," said Barbara Dorris of SNAP. "Letting him retire implies that he's innocent and that’s wrong."
Brady claims that “most of Romano’s work was done telephonically,” that Romano “had no contact with children,” and that Advocate officials were “confident that no one has been placed at risk.”
“How can they say that about a credibly accused serial child molester? Did they have a supervisor glued to Romano’s hip during every working hour?” asked David Clohessy, SNAP’s executive director.
“Regardless of what he did while on the clock, just having a business card that says ‘counselor’ and a respected employer like Advocate Health likely gave Romano access to vulnerable children,” Clohessy said.
Romano was ordained in 1973 and he reportedly resigned his priesthood in 1991, although the archdiocese kept that fact largely hidden until 2006.
“This case is yet another reminder of why the Chicago Archdiocese should publicly release the files of all proven, admitted and credibly accused predator priests,” said Dorris. “The Archdiocese should be as transparent as possible to help other employers to protect children and avoid hiring predators.”
“We also hope that the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation will revoke Romano’s license so he isn't allowed to just hang up a shingle somewhere else or see clients privately,” Clohessy said.
On the application to become a licensed counselor in Illinois, it asks: “Have you had or do you now have any disease or condition that interferes with your ability to perform the essential functions of your profession including any disease or condition generally regarded as chronic by the medical community, i.e., (1) mental or emotional disease or condition; (2) alcohol or other substance abuse; (3) physical disease or condition, that presently interferes with your ability to practice your profession? If yes, attach a detailed statement, including an explanation whether or not you are currently under treatment.”
“We wonder if Romano answered this deceptively and, if so, believe his license could be revoked on that basis,” Clohessy said.
According to news reports, Romano worked at St. Leonard Parish, Berwyn; St. Barbara Parish, Brookfield; and as a teacher at Quigley Preparatory Seminary South, Chicago.
Romano is one of six accused priests who worked at one Chicago parish - St. Leonard’s at 3318 Clarence Ave. in Berwyn. (The others are Fr. Gary M. Miller (1980s), Fr. Kenneth Ruge (1979-85), Fr. Alberto Tanghal-Rimando 1995-96), Fr. Richard Gregory Theisen, and Fr. Howard Sturm.)
A photo of Romano is available at Bishopaccountability.org. According to public records, he currently lives in Bolingbrook, Illinois.
Some of Romano’s victims are represented by Chicago attorney Marc Pearlman (312 261 4554, firstname.lastname@example.org) who has handled hundreds of child sex cases in the Chicagoland area.
The letter to SNAP from Brady is dated May 15 but SNAP received it yesterday.