Category Archives: Priest Sexual Abuse

Punitive Damages Granted Against Archdiocese of Chicago

On February 9, 2016, Cook County Judge Clare McWilliams, ruled against the Archdiocese of Chicago on behalf of ‘John Doe’ whom the defrocked priest, Daniel J. McCormack, allegedly abused as a young boy at St. Agatha’s Parish in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood. The ruling on Tuesday means, many, if not all of the victims allegedly abused by McCormack can seek punitive damages if their lawsuits make it to trial. This could cost the Archdiocese millions of additional dollars, on top of the millions they have already paid out to sex abuse victims in this particular case.  Attorney Eugene K. Hollander of The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander represented the victim, now in his early 20s, who alleged that McCormack sexually abused him while he was enrolled in third grade for a short period of time at St. Agatha's Parish. ‘John Doe’ alleges he was sexually abused twice while attending St. Agatha’s and that Father McCormack was a person he trusted, because he knew his mother. After complaining to his mother, he switched schools to finish out third grade. The pain and suffering ‘John Doe’ has endured since these encounters has caused severe problems in his life, including mental disturbances, sexual confusion and substance abuse. Evidence indicates that the Archdiocese of Chicago received warnings about McCormack's disturbing sexual behavior while he was in seminary, yet still chose to ordain him as a priest. Because of the negligent, willful and wanton acts of the Archdiocese of Chicago, ‘John Doe’ is joined by a number of other victims of horrific sexual abuse performed by Daniel J. McCormack. Attorney Eugene Hollander, says: My client is very pleased with the Court's ruling.  He looks forward to his upcoming trial, and having all of the evidence which supported the Motion for Punitive Damages placed before the jury. Eugene Hollander has represented five other victims who allege sexual abuse by McCormack. All of these claims have been settled with the Archdiocese of Chicago, including one for $1.25 million in May of 2015. There are currently around 20 pending lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Chicago related to allegations of sexual abuse by its priests currently proceeding through litigation in Cook County.

Hollander Law Offices Seeks Punitive Damages Against Archdiocese of Chicago

In a rare hearing, Eugene K. Hollander, representing an alleged sexual abuse victim of defrocked priest Daniel J. McCormack, argued a motion in the Circuit Court of Cook County yesterday, seeking to impose punitive damages against the Archdiocese of Chicago.  The former priest is alleged to have sexually assaulted Hollander's client when the victim attended St. Agatha's school in September, 2000.  At the hearing, Hollander argued that there were warning bells that the Archdiocese of Chicago ignored during his seminary days both at Niles College and the Mundelein Seminary.  Hollander argued that had the officials at Mundelein Seminary taken proper action, they would have expelled McCormack before he became ordained a priest in 1994.  Hollander also argued that the pastor at McCormack's initial assignment at St. Ailbe's was not provided all of McCormack's background information, and had he learned of certain key events, he would have prevented him from coming to his parish.  We expect a ruling on this motion by early next week.  The case is set for trial in July, 2016.

Spotlight Movie Covers Priest Sexual Abuse Crisis in Boston

The new Open Road movie, "Spotlight," tracks the Boston Globe's coverage of the priest sexual abuse scandal in Boston.  Spotlight was the name of the investigative team of the newspaper which led the charge into breaking the story.  While it was long suspected that a handful of priests were involved in sexually abusing boys from broken homes, the reporters discovered that about 90 priests had molested hundreds of victims.  Using old church directories as one of their tools, the newspaper found that the archdiocese had shuttled many priests around from parish to parish, using various terms of sick leave to describe their absence from a particular church.  While many priests who were not accused of molesting children served seven years or more at a particular parish, those who were named as abusers, served a far shorter stint, usually two to three years.  Ultimately, the trail led up to Cardinal Law, who knew that a number of priests were involved in molesting children, but did not remove them from ministry.  Cardinal Law ultimately resigned from the Archdiocese of Boston. The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander currently represents an alleged victim of Daniel McCormack, a laicized priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago.  McCormack has been accused of sexually assaulting many young boys from the west side of Chicago.  There are currently about 15 pending cases against the Archdiocese of Chicago involving McCormack claims.  McCormack pled guilty to sexually abusing five children. Hollander currently has a pending motion seeking punitive damages against the Archdiocese of Chicago for their failure to remove McCormack from ministry, based upon what knowledge they had at the time.  A ruling is expected in December, 2015.

Appellate Court Rules That Letter to Pastor Regarding Sexual Conduct is Not Privileged

The Illinois Appellate Court recently ruled that a letter written to a pastor of a Catholic church alleging sexual conduct is not privileged in the same manner that a confession to that clergy member would be.  Thus, the Court ruled that the Kane County pastor must reveal who sent him the letter.  The opinion did not disclose the name of the pastor.  In the letter, a parishioner alleges that her son had sexual contact with another minor of the church.  The church and pastor sought to bar disclosure of the letter, arguing that the clergy-penitent privilege barred its release.  The Court rejected the argument, and ruled that the author of the letter must be disclosed, but not the letter itself.

Pope Francis Visit May Stir Suppressed Memories of Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis' recent visit to the United States was historic and memorable.  He touched many hearts and connected with many spiritually.  His visit, however, may also have roused long suppressed memories and feelings.  Victims of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a clergy member, like a Catholic priest, may discover memories which they buried long ago regarding molestation.  Indeed it is a common psychological mechanism for those who have been sexually molested to either repress the memory or to suppress it.  In the former case, the victim completely blocks the memory out of his mind and is no longer conscious of it.  In the latter situation, the sexual abuse victim is still cognizant of what happened, but purposefully "places it away" so that he will not have to deal with it.  The recent visit of Pope Francis is similar to what happened when the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke, causing many sexual abuse victims to come forward.  Those victims who do recall such unfortunate events should contact a lawyer immediately as certain statutes of limitations may limit their ability to recover compensation for their psychological injuries.

Milwaukee Archdiocese Close to Settling Abuse Cases

In an effort to resolve a bankruptcy proceeding, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has agreed to pay $21 million to more than 300 victims of clergy sexual abuse.  The deal still requires approval of the Court. The Milwaukee Archdiocese is one of 12 diocese that has filed for bankruptcy protection to priest sexual abuse cases.  The Church said it has also earmarked $500,000 for a therapy fund.  It is estimated that the payout will be $44,000 per victim.

The Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus Settles Sexual Abuse Claim for $950,000

Chicago – June 29th, 2015 – The Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus has paid $950,000 to settle a lawsuit with a Chicago man who alleges he was sexually abused by Father Donald O’Shaughnessy while he attended Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois. Eugene K. Hollander of The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander represents the victim and it isn’t his first case against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus. Hollander settled another claim against them for $750,000 in 2013 on behalf of another man, Bill Reidy, who claimed that he was also sexually abused by O’Shaughnessy while he attended Loyola Academy. Eugene Hollander says: “I’m relieved that we have been able to get some justice for this victim and hopefully he can now start to move forward with his life. I believe there are probably other victims out there and hopefully this recent news will encourage them to come forward so they can seek justice, too.”   O'Shaughnessy was a Jesuit priest for over 70 years, serving in Chicago, Illinois, Cincinnati, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, Milford, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Oakland, California, and Clarkston, Michigan. O’Shaughnessy died at the age of 89 in July 2013.

Cardinal George Provides Trial Testimony in Sexual Abuse Litigation

Last Thursday, Archbishop Cardinal George provided videotaped trial testimony in the sexual abuse cases involving former priest Daniel McCormack.  Though the Cardinal had been deposed three times before, those depositions were for discovery purposes, which are generally not admissible at trial.  This time, because of the Cardinal's health, his trial testimony was taken in advance.  Should one or more of the nineteen pending cases proceed to trial, the videotape can be shown to the jury at that time.  Mr. Hollander's first case is scheduled for trial in May, 2015.  Because of a protective order entered by the Court, the Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander cannot comment on the substance of the Cardinal's testimony at this time.  We can report, however, that the Cardinal was questioned for about 6 hours, by two of the Plaintiffs' attorneys, including Eugene K. Hollander.  Deposition testimony resumes today, June 3.

New McCormack Victim Goes Public

Numerous sexual abuse claims have been filed against the Archdiocese of Chicago by victims of convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack, however, there was a new development yesterday.  A 27 year old man, Darryl McArthur, filed suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, alleging that he was molested by the former priest when he was at St. Ailbe Parish, starting in 1994.  Many lawsuits against the Archdiocese have been filed in the Circuit Court for similar allegations, but all of the victims have elected to file under a pseudonym, John Doe.  This is not uncommon in molestation cases.  To date, none of the abuse cases involving McCormack have proceeded to trial.  They have all been settled.  The first one which is scheduled for trial is set for April, 2014.  The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander currently has lawsuits pending in the Circuit Court for six different victims.  These victims were either abused while at St. Agatha's Parish or at St. Ailbe's.  A number of the victims were involved in an aftercare program, known as SAFE.  Most of those victims have attempted to settle their claims through a mediation process known as the Advisory Panel, but they have not yet been resolved.  McCormack pled guilty in 2007 to sexually abusing five victims.

Hollander Law Offices Files New Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Against Chicago Archdiocese and Cardinal George

On Wednesday of this week, The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander, filed a new sexual abuse lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal George.  The filing of the case was reported by Channel 2 CBS News.  Hollander's client, known as John Doe in the case to protect his privacy, claims that on two occasions while he attended St. Agatha's parish, that Father Daniel McCormack fondled him on two occasions.  Hollander currently represents five other victims who similarly claim that the priest, since laicized, sexually molested them.  Those other cases are pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County.  McCormack is currently incarcerated after he pled guilty in 2007 to sexually assaulting 5 boys.