Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Man claims now-dead Augustinian brother molested him

COTWA: We are not calling this a "wrongful" rape claim, we simply post it to underscore the point that we just don't know -- a boy might have had his life scarred by an evil man, or a good man's name might be forever besmirched by an evil lie. We don't know, and we wonder why a presumptively innocent man -- who can no longer defend himself because he's dead -- is being publicly named for something so awful where there is no way to disprove it.

A man is suing the Chicago Archdiocese, claiming a now-deceased Augustinian brother who served as dean of St. Rita of Cascia High School sexually abused him more than 30 years ago when he was a student at the South Side school.

The plaintiff, listed as John Doe, was a student at St. Rita and a devout Catholic when the abuse happened in 1977 or 1978, according to the suit.

Brother Christopher J. McCartney repeatedly pulled the boy out of class and called him to his office where he would remove his pants and fondle him, the suit alleges. When the boy would try to leave, the brother wouldn’t let him and said he was being “disciplined.”

The plaintiff recovered the repressed memories of the alleged abuse in 2011, according to the suit.

The Archdiocese of Chicago received the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon but has not had the opportunity to evaluate it yet, a spokeswoman said.

However, the spokeswoman said, “It is clear that the archdiocese does not own or operate St. Rita’s high school and we have no authority over the members of the Augustinian order serving in Augustinian institutions.”

Wednesday’s lawsuit accuses the Archdiocese of failing to have a system in place to supervise brothers in order to prevent sexual contact with minors. It further claims the Archdiocese knew McCartney had lured other children to his office and molested them, but did not restrict his access to young people or report him to authorities.

“My client hopes that this lawsuit can serve as a catalyst for other victims to come forward to confront their past abuse and by doing so, begin to heal,” said the man’s attorney, Jessica Hegarty.

“He wishes to help other child sex abuse victims by letting them know that they’re not alone and that they need to come out of the shadows and confront their abusers.”

McCartney entered the Augustinian order in 1961 and worked at high schools in St. Louis and Detroit before moving to St. Rita in 1973, the school website says. He served as a dean at the South Side all-male high school for five years.

He later worked at Maryville Academy in Des Plaines and St. Joseph Parish in Pekin, Ill., then worked outside Chicago before he died on July 21, 2002.

Hegarty & Hegarty, the firm representing the plaintiff, is considering adding the Augustinian order as a defendant to the lawsuit, his attorney said. The order could not be reached for comment.

Tuesday’s two-count suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, claims negligence and fraud and seeks at least $100,000 in damages.

LeeAnn Shelton