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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
Catholic hospice chaplain is sued
He’s believed to still be in active ministry now
New suit says he exploits grieving woman while her mom dies
Agency suspended him immediately; archdiocese apparentlyhas not
Abuse victims want Cardinal to reach out to “others he may have hurt”
In 2008, according to the suit, Fr. Fernando Zuleta gave “secular grief counseling” to a woman at Rainbow Hospice in Chicago. About a week after being admitted to Rainbow, the woman’s mother died. Zuleta officiated at her mom’s funeral. He also continued to meet with the distraught woman after her mother’s death.
The suit maintains that “Within days of meeting Zuleta, (she) developed an overwhelming psychological and emotional dependency on Zuleta as her counselor, which he allowed and encouraged to develop unchecked.” He arranged for them to meet at a restaurant, “began ordering alcohol for (her)” and “despite knowing (she) had become intoxicated, that she had become emotionally dependent upon him, and also knowing her to be married, Zuleta kissed (her) and touched her body in a sexual manner.” He continued to have “daily private meetings to treat, counsel, and guide (her) while escalating his advances … by engaging in intimate conversation, and engaging in further kissing and sexual touching.”
These sexual acts continued from approximately November 2008 to February 2009, including sometimes at the church rectory at Resurrection Parish, where Zuleta also worked.
The woman’s husband reported Zuleta’s misconduct and Rainbow immediately terminated Zuleta’s privileges, according to the suit. Chicago archdiocesan officials, however, have taken no action against him, the suit says.
The victim is represented by attorneys Marc Pearlman of Chicago (312 261 4550) and Jeff Anderson of St. Paul MN (651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell). She no longer lives in Chicago. Rainbow Hospice is at 2900 N. Lake Shore Drive (773 237 5950). Zuleta is a native of Columbia, South America and was ordained by Cardinal Francis George in 2006.
The suit, filed late Friday in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests