Legal Trends Features Punitive Damage Ruling in Archdiocese Case and Police Shooting Lawsuit.
In this issue of Legal Trends, we analyze a landmark ruling in the clergy sexual abuse litigation against the Archdiocese of Chicago and a new lawsuit filed against the City of Chicago involving a police shooting.
Spotlight In Chicago
Hollander Law Offices Obtains A Punitive Damage Ruling Against the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Former priest Daniel J. McCormack has already pled guilty of sexually abusing five children and completed his five year sentence for those crimes. He currently resides in a state mental health facility where he is fighting involuntary commitment proceedings. In the interim, his former employer, the Archdiocese of Chicago, faces a multitude of civil lawsuits alleging that minor children were sexually abused by the former cleric.
This past February, Judge Clare McWilliams granted a motion filed by The Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander, allowing it to seek punitive damages against the Archdiocese on behalf of his client, who alleges that he was sexually molested by McCormack in the fall of 2000. The ruling will likely apply to most, if not all, of the pending lawsuits involving McCormack.
While much of the evidence in this case cannot be released due to a protective order entered by the Court, proceedings involving the punitive damage motion were made public.
This was the evidence before the Court. Prior to the allegations concerning McCormack, the Archdiocese of Chicago had already been rocked by a sexual abuse scandal. Cardinal Bernadin appointed the Commission on Clerical Sexual Misconduct with Minors, (“Commission”), to study the problem. The Cardinal acknowledged that ”we have made mistakes for which I am deeply sorry,” but assured the public that, “I want to make sure these mistakes are not repeated.”
The Commission recommended that the Archdiocese of Chicago consolidate the priest’s priest file with his seminary file, and that the combined file would follow the priest throughout his career within the Archdiocese of Chicago. The files would be used by key decisionmakers concerning the priest’s career. The Archdiocese adopted those policies as law in September, 1992. Dan McCormack’s file, however, remained locked in a file cabinet at the seminary for fourteen years. McCormack’s seminary file was never shared with the decisionmakers.
The evidence concerning McCormack was staggering. When McCormack began his theological training at Niles College, there was testimony that the future priest sexually molested drunk or passed out seminarians.
Another seminarian told a school counselor about these events, but the counselor remained silent. McCormack was able to graduate from Niles College and then attended graduate level training at Mundelein Seminary.
In the summer of 1991, McCormack and fellow seminarians travelled to Mexico, to learn Spanish. While there, several seminarians saw McCormack pinch or slap a minor on the butt. When the seminarians returned to the United States, they met with Reverend John Canary, the Vice-Rector at Mundelein. One seminarian told Canary that McCormack had engaged in oral sex with seminarians at Niles.
When the Rector at Mundelein, John Kicanas, and Reverend Canary confronted McCormack, the seminarian not only admitted what happened in Mexico, but volunteered that he had sex with other seminarians at Niles College. Father Kicanas knew that McCormack’s conduct violated Niles’ rules. Cardinal George testified in his videotaped trial testimony that the standards in place at the time required McCormack to be expelled.
Nonetheless, in 1994, the Archdiocese of Chicago ordained McCormack as a priest. None of McCormack’s past behavior was shared with the Cardinal or the priest placement board.
McCormack was initially assigned to St. Ailbe’s, a parish on the southwest side. Father John Breslin was the pastor at the time. Father Breslin testified that had he known of the Mexico incident, he would not have allowed McCormack to come to his parish.
Additionally, in 1999, the principal at Holy Family School learned that McCormack allegedly instructed an altar boy to pull down his pants so that he could “measure him.” When confronted with the evidence, McCormack did not deny it, but said that he used “poor judgment.” The incident was not reported to DCFS, in violation of state law.
A short time later, in the fall of 2000, Hollander’s client was allegedly sexually molested by McCormack at St. Agatha’s parish. The case was originally set for trial in July, however, as the Archdiocese seeks an appeal of the Court’s ruling, a new date has yet to be scheduled.
Suit Filed In Police Shooting Case
Citizen Survives After Being Shot Seven Times By Police.
July 4, 2014 started out like another ordinary day for Dominiq Greer. Greer, then aged 23, and residing in Englewood at the time, was talking with two friends in the early morning hours. A Chicago police squad car pulled up, and the police demanded that Greer place his hands on the vehicle. Greer refused and fled to an alley a short distance away. The police gave chase.
As Greer entered the alley, he attempted to throw a gun on a roof. As he did so, Greer tripped and fell. At that time, a police officer fired and shot Greer three times – once in the right arm, right leg, and left big toe. Greer got up and continued to run the length of the alley. Greer contends that the police
officer shot him four more times while he was immobile on the ground, striking him in his right arm, left arm, chest and back. Greer looked up at the police and asked them, “Why are you shooting at me?”
At no time did Greer point his weapon at the officer or make any threatening gestures toward the police. At no time did the police ever see a weapon in Greer’s hands, or even have a reasonable belief that Greer committed any crime.
Greer was transported to Stroger Hospital where he was admitted in serious condition and remained hospitalized for 8 days. While there, my client was subjected to two surgeries.
On December 9, 2015, Mayor Emanuel commented that a culture or code of silence existed within the Chicago Police Department. He remarked that the code “was the tendency to ignore, deny, or in some cases, cover-up the bad actions of a colleague or colleagues.” The mayor said that the City needed to do a better job. The mayor also remarked in the case of Lyquan McDonald, that we cannot have effective policing if we turn a blind eye to the extreme misconduct that we saw in that case. We believe that Dominiq Greer’s case is no different.
On Wednesday, June 8, we had a press conference at our offices to announce the filing of the suit. Minutes after the press conference, Greer was arrested on an arrest warrant for an alleged murder which happened less than two weeks prior.
While the media and the public have made much about Greer’s recent arrest, we caution that the recent charges have not been proven and question the motives of the police in arresting Greer immediately following the press conference. Further, even if the murder charge is ultimately proven by the state, the alleged murder took place nearly two years after the July 4th shooting, and in any event, would not justify shooting Greer seven times as he was running away.