MO--Abuse lawsuits vs. 2 St. Louis priests settled
For immediate release: Thursday, April 16, 2015
For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com
Cases settled vs. two predator priests
Both were from Joliet diocese but worked here
One was a Missouri state social worker in 2002
The other is the 1st priest deemed "sexually violent predator"
He allegedly had 25 victims and worked at five St. Louis sites
One cleric is still in prison; the other may still be living here
Catholic officials in an Illinois diocese have settled 14 clergy sex abuse and cover up cases involving five priests – two of whom worked in St. Louis - for $4.1 million.
One is Fr. Fred Lenczycki, the first US priest to be deemed a "sexually violent predator" after being convicted in 2004 of molesting three boys. For roughly ten years throughout the 1990s, Fr. Lenczycki worked at five St. Louis locations: DePaul and Deaconess (now Forest Park) hospitals and three area parishes: St. Blaise Parish in Maryland Heights, North American Martyrs in Florissant and St. George’s in south St. Louis County.
The other is Fr. Lawrence M. Gibbs, who has been called “Joliet’s most notorious” and “savage” predator priest. http://patch.com/illinois/joliet/joliet-diocese-settles-victims-abuse-claims-against-savage-scary-priests-over-4m-0
In 2002, he was a state social worker in St. Louis investigating abuse allegations against the elderly.
(The settlement will be discussed at a news conference in Chicago on Thursday.)
A support group for clergy sex abuse victims is urging St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson to reach out to victims of both priests, using pulpit announcements, church websites, parish bulletins and news releases.
“Dozens of times, Carlson has ignored our pleas for outreach to victims of local archdiocesan priests,” said David Clohessy of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “Maybe he’ll listen and act now since neither of these clerics are technically Carlson’s responsibility.”
“And if Carlson refuses to help, we beg every single priest in this archdiocese to do all they can to spread the word about Fr. Gibbs and Fr. Lenczycki,” Barbara Dorris, SNAP's outreach director. “If there’s even one adult here, man or woman, who was assaulted by one of these priests and is still suffering in shame, silence and self-blame, we want that individual to get help and know they’re not alone.”
Fr. Gibbs has been sued repeatedly, most recently in 2012 and 2013. Last year, as part of a settlement, 84 pages of his personnel file were released publicly. (They can be found at BishopAccountability.org.)
Gibbs was identified early on as a poor candidate for the priesthood even before he was ordained in 1964, according to the plaintiffs’ Chicago attorneys. They maintain that the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein voted against Gibbs continuing in his vocation and at one point had asked him to leave.
According to WhitePages.com, there is a “Lawrence M Gibbs” around the correct age who once lived in Rockdale, Illinois (in the Joliet diocese) and now lives at 4318 Canyonside Lane in south St. Louis county 314-416-1680).
Fr. Lenczycki was to be released from prison in May 2006. But prosecutors felt the chance of him re-offending was high, and in 2008 they successfully fought to have him kept in state custody and be declared "sexually violent" under a relatively new state law.
According to one news account, Fr. Lenczycki “is believed to have molested an estimated 24 boys in three separate states over his 25 year career as a priest.”
Joliet's now-retired Bishop Joseph Imesch has publicly said he sent Lenczycki to treatment in St. Louis because of abuse allegations.
Between assignments in Joliet and St. Louis, Lenczycki was sent to San Francisco, where he allegedly molested three other kids.
Here’s a brief synopsis of Fr. Lenczycki’s history, according to BishopAccountability.org:
Removed 2002. Arrested and convicted 2004 of abuse of 3 boys. Sentenced to 5 yrs prison. Also worked in MO and CA. Just before release from prison 4/06, he was remanded to mental treatment facility upon release pending trial as to whether he is sexually dangerous. Trial held 3/08. Experts testified he molested at least 24 boys in 3 states in a 25 yr career. Jury said he was too dangerous to release & sent him back to prison. Released 9/09 on parole. On IL sex offender registry. 1 new lawsuit 5/13. Diocese agreed to release of personnel files 3/13 as part of settlement in Rudofski v Joliet & Bennett. Files finally released 4/30/14. Named in at least one new civil suit filed 4/30/14 against Joliet diocese.
Here’s a brief synopsis of Fr. Gibbs’ history, according to BishopAccountability.org:
Accused of abuse of 1 in 1979. Transferred. Accused of abuse of 11 yr old boy for 6 yrs. 2 civil suits filed 1993. 1 dismissed; 1 settled 1998. Multiple accusers. Termed Joliet's most notorious priest abuser. Accused of abuse in Lombard, Lockport & Glen Ellyn. Finally removed from ministry 1992. No criminal charges filed. Left priesthood in 1990s and later married. Removed from position as counselor in St. Louis in 2002 pending investigation. Named in new suit filed by 1 man 6/12 and by another man 6/13. Diocese agreed to release of personnel files 3/13 as part of settlement in Rudofski v Joliet & Bennett. Files finally released 4/30/14.
The victims were represented by Seattle attorney Mike Pfau and Chicago attorney Mark McKenna (312 553 4900).
Photos of both priests are available at BishopAccountability.org