The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Friday, April 15, 2011
SNAP demands Chicago priest be suspended now
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, [email protected])
We are appalled that a Chicago-based Catholic religious order allegedly took a credibly accused Chicago child molesting priest off the job months ago and told no one. We doubt they’re telling the truth, and if they are, shame on them for their reckless secrecy.
For the first time, yesterday, officials with the Aurora-based Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (630 892 2371, http://misacor-usa.org/) claimed that they secretly suspended Fr. Philip DeRea months ago. Their disturbing admission came after a detailed new child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit was filed in Chicago against DeRea and his church supervisors.
But what good is a secret suspension? Unless parents, neighbors, relatives and others know that a cleric has been credibly accused of sexually violating a child, those adults can’t protect kids.
In fact, a secret suspension may exacerbate an already dangerous situation. Secretly suspending a pedophile priest simply him frees up from his daily duties, giving him or her even more time to select, groom and sexually violate more kids, and to destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten whistleblowers, discredit witnesses, fabricate alibis, and even flee the country.
Many times, Catholic officials justify their continued secrecy in child sex cases by talking of the need to protect the reputation of the accused. But the safety of many innocent kids always trumps the reputation of one alleged criminal. And besides, “openness” and “children’s safety” are what the Catholic hierarchy has pledged, over and over and over, to honor and protect. Secretly suspending child molesting cleric is a gross violation of common sense, common decency, and the promises that church staffers have made thousands of times over the past decade.
Besides, these aren’t just “allegations.” Last year, DeRea wrote one of his victims, claiming to have “a heavy heart and great regret,” admitting that he had done “your family a great injustice” and apologizing for “my weakness and sinfulness and misconduct” but telling the victim to “keep all quiet” and wiring him a few thousand dollars at a time to try to buy the his silence. God help us if, in light of these damning admissions by DeRea, his Catholic supervisors claim they kept the child sex allegations quiet to safeguard the priest’s reputation.
DeRea is accused of repeatedly sodomized a boy, attempted anal sex, and “performed other depraved acts,” gave him liquor and pornography, “consorted with a gay stripper” in his presence, and talked openly with him “about gay dance clubs (and) his sex with men, some of whom were staff members, and his use of gay escort services.” The suit also says that DeRea “had sexual encounters with one or more other boys during the mid-1980s” and had “received treatment for pedophilia” in the past. So this isn’t a “one time incident” or a possible “miscommunication.” These are serious charges. Catholics and citizens deserved the truth about them months ago. Instead, they got reckless, callous and self-serving silence, once again, from members of the Catholic hierarchy.
What Catholic officials allegedly did here is precisely what they have done for decades in abuse cases: keeping secrets, doing little protecting themselves, their reputations and a dangerous, powerful and charismatic predator, while letting him stay around vulnerable kids and unsuspecting parents. Again, shame on them.
We understand why church officials might be secretive about the serious charges against DeRea. We suspect because of his charm, visibility and connections with Hollywood types and sports celebrities, he must be a “cash cow” for his religious order. (According to the suit, he “hobnobs” with people like Paul Newman and Mario Andretti and performed Ashley Judd’s wedding ceremony.) Still, whatever became of all those pledges by Catholic officials to be “open” in child sex cases and put kids’ safety first?
We beg Chicago area Catholic officials to “come clean” about DeRea immediately. We beg them to use their extensive resources – church websites and parish bulletins and mailing lists – to warn other families about him. And we beg anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered his crimes to come forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing. Since church officials are still acting irresponsibly, it’s crucial that others start acting even more responsibly.
(The suit, filed yesterday in the federal court in Chicago (Illinois Northern District), seeks actual and punitive damages. The victim, identified only as “John Doe,” is represented by attorneys Peter Gillon of Washington DC (202 663 8000, [email protected]) and Marc Pearlman of Chicago (312 261 4550, [email protected]).
(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 23 years and have more than 10,000 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)
Contact - David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, [email protected]), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, [email protected]), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, [email protected]), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, [email protected])
Lawsuit: Priest associated with Indy Racing abused boy in '80s
April 14, 2011|By Becky Schlikerman, Tribune reporter
A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Chicago accuses a priest known in the Indy car racing community of sexually abusing a boy in the 1980s.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiff, now a 40-year-old Maryland man identified only as John Doe, was abused by the Rev. Philip DeRea for about eight years in Washington, where both DeRea and the man lived.
The lawsuit also names the Aurora-based Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, claiming DeRea's order was negligent in supervising him.
The Rev. Ray Diesbourg, the provincial of the order, said the group was saddened by the lawsuit. "These allegations are contrary to our mission and all to which we profess," Diesbourg said.
DeRea could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District Court of Illinois because the order is based in Aurora. It is also believed DeRea now lives in Aurora.
According to the complaint, the 40-year-old man had repressed the memories of the sexual abuse, which began when he was 11 years old and lasted for approximately eight years.
DeRea is identified in the complaint a "semi-celebrity priest" who has been the Catholic chaplain for IndyCar and its predecessor organizations since 1971 and an associate of many celebrities, including racing driver Mario Andretti and Paul Newman. The complaint also claims DeRea performed the marriage ceremony for actress Ashley Judd to racer Dario Franchitti in 2001.
The complaint alleges DeRea used his association with the celebrity and racing world to make the plaintiff feel honored to have a connection with him.
After the man graduated from high school, the abuse ceased and he maintained sporadic contact with DeRea, who baptized the plaintiff's two children.
A 2006 "minor incident" involving his son "prompted a flood of memories" about the sexual abuse, according to the complaint.
Since the memories were triggered, the man's life has spiraled downward, going through a divorce, losing his restaurant franchise business and having financial problems, according to the complaint.
He is seeking damages and a permanent injunction barring DeRea from contact with children.
A lawyer for the order said DeRea was removed from ministry after the abuse allegations were brought to the attention of the order.
DeRea is currently listed as the Catholic chaplain, part of the staff, on the Indy Racing League Ministry website. The group describes itself as a nonprofit organization that helps the car racing community.
Officials with the Indy Racing League could not be reached.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests