Man sues for allegedly being a victim of pedophile priest
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter December 11, 2013 2:08PM
Updated: January 14, 2014 12:18PM
Darryl McArthur spoke slowly, haltingly, his voice occasionally quivering.
He had to stop and take deep breaths.
The first alleged victim to identify himself, McArthur, 27, of Chicago, was describing three years of childhood hell, during which he allegedly was sexually abused by convicted Archdiocese of Chicago priest pedophile Daniel McCormack.
His lawsuit, filed Wednesday, is the first in which an alleged victim of priest pedophilia in Chicago uses his name rather than the usual “John Doe” alias.
The archdiocese acknowledged on Wednesday it was first notified of McArthur’s case in 2011 and has submitted the case to the archdiocese’s official mediation advisory panel so that it may recommend appropriate financial settlement.
“My name is Darryl McArthur, and I grew up in the St. Ailbe parish in Chicago. I was a child whose innocence was taken away at a very young age. For years, I suffered in silence,” the man said to a hushed room full of reporters and cameras.
“I not only want to break my silence, but I also want to remove the secrecy attached to childhood sexual abuse by priests. I want to show a sense of courage today. I feel as though there needs to be a face with the story,” he said.
His attorneys, Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, who have represented many such cases and only two weeks ago announced settlement of yet another “John Doe” case — “John Doe 184” — for $2.3 million, said they were awed by his courage.
“All the people we’ve worked with that have come before you have used ‘John Doe’ to protect their privacy, and we respect that, but you chose to use your name,” Anderson told McArthur after he painfully, at times on the brink of tears, got his story out. “We are grateful for you having taken this action today to help protect other kids and to invite other survivors to share the secret.”
McArthur alleges in his lawsuit that McCormack, his pastor and coach, abused him from fourth- through sixth-grade at St. Ailbe, when he was an altar server and athlete there. McArthur had sought a jury trial and damages, but said Wednesday he has agreed to the archdiocese recommendation for mediation.
In a statement, the archdiocese stressed its many efforts now in place to both redress and address the problem of priest pedophilia in the Catholic church.
“The Achdiocese of Chicago is concerned first and foremost with the healing of abuse victims,” the statement read. “As we have done with other cases, the Archdiocese recommended this claim be submitted to an advisory panel . . . for evaluation and a settlement recommendation. We appreciate that the claimant has agreed to do so.”
McCormack, who became the local face of priest pedophilia, pleaded guilty and was convicted in 2007 of criminally sexually abusing five victims. Sentenced to five years in prison, he came up for parole in 2010, when the Cook County State’s Attorney and Illinois Attorney General petitioned to have him committed under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act. McCormack remains confined to a state mental health facility while a Cook County judge decides his fate.
“He had a good persona about him. He was easy to talk to,” McArthur said of how McCormack gained his family’s trust, before the abuse began in baptism classes.
“He used my baptism classes as a way to sodomize me . . .” he said, trailing off.
Gathering himself, he continued. “He [McCormack] brought a sense of making you feel comfortable as a child. And with his skills of being a basketball coach and football coach, he excelled in showing kids how to become pretty good athletes. That’s how I was lured in. He baptized me. He was my coach and a mentor to me.”
McArthur was away at college during McCormack’s trial, and was not initially aware the defrocked priest had been brought to justice. A businessman running his own company as well as a family business, it was not until 2010 that McArthur sought legal help, accessed counseling, and told his family the secret.
“When I first told them, it was a shock, but they’re supportive now,” he said.
“By my being a young African-American male, I feel I can raise awareness not only to people about childhood sexual abuse, but especially within my culture. Where I come from, there’s a sworn secrecy of ‘Don’t tell,’” McArthur said of child sexual abuse, which maintains taboo status in the black community.
Many books, movies and plays have dealt with the subject, including “Cosby” star Phylicia Rashad’s 2012 Goodman directorial debut, “Immediate Family.”
“I’ve built the courage to speak up about this and I want to let Daniel McComack know, ‘I’m not afraid. You have victimized me, and I’m a survivor.’” McArthur said. And he had a message to other victims of childhood sexual abuse:
“You can come forward. There are people there to help. When you’ve been abused and victimized, there is nothing but shame. But you can be helped with the shame, to deal with it,” McArthur said. “You can come forward and be private. You don’t have to do what I did. What I did, I did for me.”