Robert Holomshek v. The Archdiocese of Chicago

Priest Sexual Abuse Case

Robert Holomshek, a victim of alleged childhood sexual abuse by Father Joseph Fitzharris, settled his claim with the Archdiocese of Chicago in July, 2007 for $875,000. The settlement was one of the larger payouts which the Archdiocese of Chicago has paid out on sexual abuse claims. The settlement took place during a voluntary mediation conference before a lawsuit was filed. Holomshek, now 37, claimed that he was repeatedly sexually assaulted from the ages of seven to ten years old by Father Fitzharris while he served as an altar boy and attended school at St. Francis Xavier, now known as Resurrection Catholic Academy.

This was not the first time that Father Fitzharris was charged with sexual abuse. A misdemeanor criminal charge was filed against him in the mid 1980’s. Father Fitzharris resigned from the priesthood in January, 1995.

Holomshek claimed to have suppressed the memories of abuse during his childhood until he attended a church function during Easter, 2005. At that time, Holomshek began to remember the incidents of abuse. Holomshek, an Operation Desert Storm veteran and aspiring comic and actor, claimed that the sexual abuse completely affected his life. Holomshek, who participated in the Improv Olympics in Chicago in the late 90’s and did some TV commercials, has been unable to hold down steady employment according to his attorney, Eugene K. Hollander. In an effort to release the pain that he experienced, Holomshek turned to recording his thoughts in a journal and drew the images which he saw in his head. During the mediation conference, Hollander used a collage of the images and his thoughts to demonstrate to church attorneys how he was injured.

Hollander said that “every aspect of my client’s life has been affected. My client’s childhood was taken away.” Holomshek is still in therapy to cope with the issues regarding the abuse, and still continues to remember specific incidents. Hollander said that “while it has been a difficult journey, my client refused to suffer in silence. By coming forward, Mr. Holomshek hopes that other victims of childhood sexual abuse will begin the healing process by confronting their past.” Hollander said that his client is hopeful that with the proceeds of the settlement he can begin to put his life back together.