IL--Another Chicago predator cleric case settles
For immediate release: Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president and founder of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747)
Once again, Chicago area Catholic officials have paid a settlement to a victim of a child molesting cleric but told no one about it.
The painful, slow “drip, drip, drip” of clergy sex abuse and cover up cases continues, in Chicago and across the US. But we learn about the most recent case not from Catholic officials – who persist in their selfish and seemingly endless secrecy - but from a brave victim and his attorney.
Officials at the Darien-based Carmelites (630-971-0724, 630-971-0050, [email protected]) have resolved a child sex abuse case involving Brother Damien “Patrick” Chong, who was associate pastor of St. Gelasius Church on Chicago’s south side from 1991 to 1997.
In 2013, Br. Chong was deemed “credibly accused” of child sex crimes by Catholic officials in California
But neither the Carmelites, nor Chicago archdiocesan officials, did outreach to find others who might have been able to criminally charge Br. Chong.
Instead, the Chicago Carmelites quietly moved him to Massachusetts and let him stay on the job until well into 2014 at a mall chapel.
These facts confirm the distressing reality that we in SNAP keep exposing and that few in society realize: little has changed in the Catholic hierarchy when it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
What should happen now? Catholics and citizens should ask the Carmelites and Chicago Archbishop Blasé Cupich:
--“How many other cases have you secretly settled or know about involving Chicago clerics?”
--“Are credibly accused child molesting clerics from elsewhere being allowed to work now in the Chicago archdiocese?”
--“Why, despite decades of pledges of ‘openness,’ did you choose to say nothing about this new settlement? Why
is the settlement being announced by the victim and his attorney and not by the Carmelities or archdiocesan staff?”
Now, Carmelites and Cupich should aggressively seek out others he has hurt. Specifically, Cupich should also go to every place where Br. Chong worked, and beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes to call police. Br. Chong is deceased and can’t be prosecuted. But we believe it’s possible that other church officials might still be criminally charged for ignoring or concealing his child sex crimes. This won't happen as long as the Carmelites and Archbishop Cupich and his colleagues continue to say and do as little as possible.
The first US predator priest attracted national headlines a full 30 years ago. All US bishops promised to be “transparent” about clergy sex crimes a full 14 years ago. It’s appalling that even now, Catholic officials are breaking their pledges and being secretive even after an abuse report is deemed credible and a settlement has been paid. And it’s appalling that deeply wounded child sex abuse victims must publicly prod Catholic officials to do what the Gospel parable of the lost sheep mandates that they do – leave the rest of the flock, go out into the dark and the cold, seeking the one wounded individual who was assaulted as a child by a priest and is still suffering as an adult.
We hope this settlement will provide some comfort to Br. Chong’s victim. We also hope it will encourage others who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes to come forward, expose predators, protect kids, deter cover ups and start healing.
Remember this settlements – and who disclosed it, the victim and his attorney – the next time someone claims that Catholic officials are “open” and “transparent” about clergy sex crimes and cover ups these days. It’s just not true.
Catholics and citizens must continue to rely on courageous victims, determined journalists and our secular justice system to warn parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners and the public about known, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
We urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in Catholic churches or institutions – especially in Chicago – to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling journalists, get justice by calling attorneys, and get comfort by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted and cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)