(MCT) JOLIET, Ill. — Five men who allege they were sexually abused by priests in the Diocese of Joliet in the 1970s and ‘80s sued the diocese Wednesday in Will County Circuit Court.
The men, who say they repressed memories of the abuse until recent media reports that accompanied the release by the diocese of personnel files of priests with substantiated allegations against them, allege they were between 8 and 16 when it happened.
Their lawsuits allege that the diocese allowed known or suspected pedophile priests to have access to boys who were allegedly abused on church retreats and even in a school classroom. One boy was allegedly told to strip out of his clothes and wear a loincloth so the priest could practice giving funeral rites.
All of the named priests — Myles White of St. Boniface, Michael Gibbney of St. Francis of Assisi, Frederick Lenczycki of St. Charles Borremeo Seminary and James Nowak of St. Dominic — were removed from ministry between 1992 and 2012, according to a release from the plaintiff’s attorneys. Lenczycki, accused of instructing a boy to wear a loincloth, was convicted of sexual abusing three boys while at St. Isaac Jogues Church in Hinsdale in 1984. White is dead, a spokesman for the plaintiff’s attorneys said.
One lawsuit also names Emery Stiglich, who taught at St. Mary Nativity School in Joliet and has since died. He is accused of molesting a male student at the school in the 1970s.
The diocese said in a statement that it had not been served with the lawsuits and that it would respond in court. “Dealing with the tragic history of child abuse is part of the church’s ministry today,” the statement read. “With God’s help, the diocese will continue to do its best to assure the safety of its children.”
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