Victim of former Back of the Yards priest speaks out
Archdiocese, Claretian Order “not truthful” about admitted predator
He was put back in ministry after admitting abuse in 1995
Now, church officials withholding “new information,” possible other victims
Community mislead about risk
Man abused by cleric to hand-deliver “list of questions” to both groups about ongoing cover-up
“Time of ‘passing the buck’” must stop, victim says
At a press conference, the victim of admitted child predator and former Back of the Yards priest Rev. Bruce Wellems, CMF will speak out in Chicago for the first time.
The victim will:
~ Discuss how archdiocese and Claretian officials promised in 1995 that Wellems would not work alone with children
~ Show how the Chicago Archdiocese kept secret for two months their decision to remove Wellems
~ Demand that the Archdiocese and Claretians make public all “new" information about Wellems and any inappropriate sexual activity
He will also hand-deliver a letter to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the offices of the Claretian Order. The letter has ten questions about Wellems and his status, including:
~ Why did they keep their decision to remove Wellems secret from the public?
~ Why was Wellems allowed to act as a priest in Chicago after being booted from Los Angeles?
~ What is the “new information” that pushed a review board to remove Wellems?
Wednesday June 8th at 1:30 pm
Outside of the offices of the Claretian Ministries
205 W. Monroe Street (at Wells) in Chicago
At approximately 2:30, they will then proceed to:
Outside of the offices of the Archdiocese of Chicago
835 N Rush St (at Pearson) in Chicago
A man who was molested by Back of the Yards priest Bruce Wellems and members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPNetwork.org
), including a California woman who is a bestselling author on child safety.
In January, the Chicago Tribune published a story about Back of the Yards priest Rev. Bruce Wellems
CMF, a Claretian priest who admitted to abusing seven-year-old Eric Johnson when Wellems was 15. Wellems was removed from the Los Angeles Archdiocese in 2014 when church officials there learned of the allegation, stating that Wellems broke their promises of “Zero Tolerance." When Wellems returned to Chicago in 2015, Archbishop Blase Cupich and the Claretians reinstated him, although as far back as 1995, both groups officials promised Wellems' victim Eric Johnson that the priest would not have unsupervised contact with children.
When an advocate reported the exact same allegations to DCFS in 2015, Chicago archdiocese officials responded and said that Wellems could not act as a priest. Despite this, Wellems was pictured by the media and others still working and acting as a priest in Back of the Yards.
In March of this year, the Archdiocese review board decided that Wellems could not return to ministry
They dwaited two months to inform Johnson, despite his numerous attempts to get an answer from the board and other archdiocese officials. He was told that the archdiocese and the Claretian order, of which Wellems is a member, was given new information, but they refuse to tell Johnson or the public what that information is.
Johnson and members of SNAP believe that this secrecy and the archbishop’s refusal to tell the Back of the Yards community of the risk Wellems poses a significant risk to children.