The priest always seems to land on his feet. He pled guilty to child sex crimes. Still, he was hired to work for the archdiocese.
And he was allowed to live in Cardinal Francis George’s Gold Coast mansion.
When a newspaper disclosed this, George pledged that the priest would leave Chicago.
Then, in 2008, the priest was again discovered quietly working in the archdiocese.
And now, the he has won a legal decision to keep his personnel records secret.
He is Fr. Kenneth J. Martin. Originally from Delaware, Martin pled guilty in 2001 to molesting a boy “for two and a half years, at least once a week," according to a prosecutor. He was sentenced to probation.
Still, according to the Associated Press, this week Delaware Judge Christopher Sontchi issued a one-page order that Martin’s employment files would not be made public. The decision came “almost six months after hearing arguments behind closed doors and barring reporters from the courtroom,” the AP wrote.
In February 2003, the Chicago Sun Times disclosed that Martin “has stayed at the cardinal's mansion on North State Parkway about one week a month since last May.”
In the wake of the controversy, George publicly promised Fr. Martin “won’t be coming back to Chicago.” But in 2008, even after the Vatican barred him from presenting himself as a priest, the Sun Times again found Fr. Martin working for the archdiocese.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are upset about the judge’s order and say Martin’s files might have shed light on his time in Chicago.
“We're very disappointed by this ruling. Kids are safest when we know more, not less, about admitted child molesters,” said SNAP director David Clohessy of St. Louis. “Who knows what Martin’s records might reveal about his activities in Chicago?”
“Now that the facts won’t come out in court, Chicago Catholics deserve to hear the whole story about this sordid recklessness from the Cardinal himself,” Clohessy said. “We fear, however, that he will keep quiet and the full truth will remain hidden.”
Fr. Martin has also been deceptive about his case, SNAP says.
In March 2003, Fr. Martin told the Sun Times that the Delaware court “had determined there was no guilt."
"That is not correct," prosecutor Stephen Roscher said told the newspaper. "(Martin) admitted his guilt.... These are not allegations. These are crimes."
In 2008, Fr.Martin told the Sun Times he was a priest in good standing in his home diocese and that the bishop there had put no restrictions on his ministry.
“But Robert Krebs, spokesman for the Wilmington Diocese, said Martin had been temporarily removed from active duty when the allegations against him were investigated” and that he has “the understanding that (he) wouldn't function in any kind of public ministry."
In 2006, then-Delaware Bishop Michael Saltarelli admitted that the sex abuse allegations against Martin were “admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated.”
You may be interested in a conversation between IL Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke with (Cdl) George when Fr. Martin’s presence was disclosed at George’s mansion.
“Anne Burke will always remember (when) a nationally famous bishop who gave her complete assurance that all instances of sexual hanky-panky were brought to a dead halt in his diocese. The next morning she opened a newspaper and found that the bishop was on the front page, having welcomed a priest-sexual predator as a house guest. (See ”http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2003_03_01_ChicagoSunTimes_GeorgeDidnt_Kenneth_J_Martin_1.htm">http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news3/2003_03_01_ChicagoSunTimes_GeorgeDidnt_Kenneth_J_Martin_1.htm)
She called the bishop. âYesterday you assured me that all matters involving the diocese had been cleaned up,â she said. âYou know, you lied to me, didnât you?â
He said the priest was being used for a theological research job.
She continued, âYou lied to me, didnât you.â
âNo, I didnât.â
âWell, the priest you hired was convicted.â
âNo he wasnât.â
âHe pled guilty. Thatâs what happened.â
âWell, not exactly-pleading guilty is not the same as being tried and
Burke smiled at that effort at the futile attempt to apply theological hair-splitting to the law. It may make it in a university theological seminar but not in a courtroom.
âWhy did he try to snow me?â she said to this reporter. âDid he think he could get away with it because-well, he didnât.â
Thomas F. Roeser, (1928-2011) Chicago-based conservative writer and broadcaster on his blog tomroeser.com