IL/CA- Victims expose secret sex abuse and cover-up letters

Chicago youth activist and LA priest accused of abuse

Official demanded all emails about allegations destroyed

Church officials "quietly removed" cleric from LA parish

He's now working with youngsters in Chicago

Where is the often-promised church “transparency?” group asks


At news conferences in Chicago and Los Angeles, victims of child sex abuse will expose for the first time previously secret letters that show church officials are currently covering up for a high-ranking priest and Chicago youth activist. The letters show that:

-- the priest has a credible accusation of child sexual abuse against him,

-- a church official told priests to "destroy" incriminating emails, and

-- Chicago archdiocesan staff wanted the allegation kept secret

Victims will also:

-- demand complete transparency from Chicago and LA church officials

-- urge both archbishops to reach out to parishes where the priest worked, and

-- offer support to parishioners who have been "kept in the dark."


CHICAGO: Today, Wednesday, September 10, At 1:30 PM outside of the Chicago Archdiocese - 835 N. Rush St (corner of Chestnut)

LOS ANGELES: Today, Wednesday, September 10, At 11:00 AM Outside of San Gabriel Mission Parish- 428 S. Mission Drive (at Ramona) San Gabriel 


Three or four adults who were abused as kids by clergy and belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (including a Chicago woman who is the SNAP president and a California woman who is the SNAP volunteer Western Regional Director).


A Chicago church official recently ordered the destruction of incriminating emails about an LA priest who was recently sent back to Chicago where he previously worked – and now works – as a youth activist.

The secret letters about Claretian priest Fr. Bruce Wellems were written in May by his supervisor, Claretian provincial Fr. Rosendo Urrabazo, who has a history of quietly moving credibly accused predator priests.

The letters, which were written while Wellems was pastor at San Gabriel Mission in the Los Angeles archdiocese, were obtained by SNAP.

The first letter says that Wellems engaged in "inappropriate behavior with a younger child when he was a teen." The allegations were allegedly "rediscovered" in a file review. A second letter says that the Chicago Archdiocese was "reconsidering" any public announcement about the allegations and that priests should destroy all copies of both letters.

Wellems was quietly sent back to Chicago from Los Angeles in May or June where he is now a "missionary" working with inner-city youth. Before working in LA, he was the executive director of Boys Town Chicago, Inc, a short-term residential assessment center in the ‘Back of the Yards’ neighborhood.

After Wellems removal, San Gabriel parishioners in LA formed a Facebook group to bring the priest back. The group's administrators spoke with Fr. Urrabazo, who told them he recently went on a trip to Florida with the Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Marimba Ensemble, a youth musical group. 

The Ensemble's website says that Wellems is the founder of the organization. Wellems was photographed with children as he chaperoned the Florida trip Fr. Urrabazo informed the Facebook group about just last month.

SNAP wants both the Claretians and Chicago archdiocesan officials to reach out to potential victims and parishioners who are hurt and confused and make public announcements about Wellems and all Claretians who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. 

Copies of the letters and other materials will be available at the press conference and at BA.ORG after both news conferences are completed.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have 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


In Chicago: Barbara Blaine, SNAP President (312-399-4747; [email protected]); David Clohessy, Executive Director (314-566-9790, [email protected]) or Barbara Dorris, Outreach Director (314-503-0003, [email protected])

In Los Angeles: Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach, SNAP Volunteer Western Regional Director, (949) 322-7434, [email protected]

Showing 4 comments

  • Luz
    commented 2014-09-23 23:48:31 -0500
    Throw the 1st Rock if your clean of all Sins regardless of what they are. No one other than God will judge each and everyone of us on this earth. Its sad to hear humans judge based off of rumors, comments, etc. Not knowing what the true story of what happened with Father Bruce really is. One word leads to another. Words are added without using those from the start. To where something smsll is created into something horrific. Ppl point fingers to what and who they want to believe. Or what you want others to believe. Only and because you decided to believe that. You want to convince others at your believe. Now. You talk about priest abusing? Correct? Why not talk about pastors, teachers, fathers, uncles, young teens, the neighbor. I can go on and on. But that is not the point, right? The point is. Do we know the real reason of what Father Bruce is being judged? Or are we assuming? Are we who to judge another? Or should we look at everything we have done before we condemn anyone. If what happened years ago has no right to a change, a 2nd chance to be better. Regret things done, in someones life. Why aren’t we paying for every negative choice we make ourselfs in life? We would never have face to ask for forgiveness or to forgive in life. Correct?
  • jack cesare
    commented 2014-09-19 10:09:20 -0500
    Melissa do you realize how criminal these catholic official are—in my case the albany ny catholic dioceses raped me my friends and my brothers friends-we were raped by gene hubbert the janitor and in my case they came to the conclusion I was raped but they will not answer my lawyer how they really came to that conclusion-the janitor died in 1997—they came to that conclusion because others came forward also that were raped by him at the school in the boiler room,at his house and he took his victims from our school one of them steve Erickson who came forward in my case who was raped by him many times,steve came forward to the district attorney office and told Shannon sarfoh that the janitor took him and others from other schools to paradox lakes in ny and gave them booze and cigars and raped them and the boys were different ages and steve said there were other adults there—31/2 years latter steve doesn’t have justice-have justice, and the others who came forward to the district attorney office don’t have justice—so we have been waiting for decades and while we wait for the statue of limitation to be eliminated in ny like other states that protect kids===kids are being raped by the same people who raped others—is this what we have to put up with—-not anymore—they are criminals that need to get out of society now—-senator klein and skellos do you job now we are watching very close to the childs victims act in ny that you wont even bring up a vote—-protecting the church????
  • Melissa Paderta
    commented 2014-09-11 15:46:54 -0500
    It’s funny how your organization deleted my comment. I will keep posting to defend this man until facts are given that he has conducted himself in this manner during his adulthood or priesthood.
  • @ tweeted this page. 2014-09-10 08:57:04 -0500
    SNAP event TODAY: Victims expose secret sex abuse and cover-up letters in Chicago and LA

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