Judge denies bond for convicted sex abuser, defrocked priest facing new charges
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter May 22, 2014 12:31PM
Daniel McCormack | Chicago Police photo
Updated: June 24, 2014 7:56AM
A Cook County judge on Thursday denied bond for convicted child molester and defrocked Catholic priest Daniel McCormack who is facing a new charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in an alleged 2005 incident involving a minor boy.
The latest criminal charge may bolster state efforts to have McCormack labeled as a sexually violent person, authorities said.
McCormack, 45, dressed in a White Sox T-shirt, shorts and gym shoes, appeared at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors say the alleged victim was 10 at the time of the alleged abuse and a parishioner at St. Agatha Catholic Church in the 3100 block of West Douglas in Chicago where McCormack worked as a priest.
The boy was participating in an after-school program at the church and the alleged abuse happened between September 2005 and December 2005, prosecutors said. The alleged victim disclosed the abuse in 2013.
Under current law, there is no statute of limitations on prosecuting cases involving a child victim of sexual abuse under the age of 18, according to the Cook state’s attorney’s office.
One incident happened after McCormack took the boy to a White Sox game, according to authorities. After the game, McCormack took the boy home, but just before going inside his home, McCormack hugged him and then fondled him, prosecutors said.
Another time, McCormack invited the boy to his room in the rectory to watch television. He told the boy to move closer to him, then fondled him. He also told the boy not to tell anyone, prosecutors said.
McCormack’s attorney Daniel Coyne said the former priest is currently receiving treatment and said he suffers a “mental disorder” and is a “sexually violent person.”
While Cook County Judge James Brown denied bond for McCormack, the judge said ex-priest would be able to remain at the state-run mental health facility — the place McCormack has been staying since he was paroled from prison for sex crimes involving other young boys at St. Agatha’s — and be transported to the courthouse for future hearings.
In recent days Chicago Police officers arrested McCormack at the Illinois Department of Human Services mental health facility in Rushville, Illinois — about 230 miles southwest of Chicago.
McCormack had been serving his sentence at the Western Illinois Correctional Center in Mount Sterling, Illinois, until he was paroled to the Rushville facility in 2009, according to Illinois Department of Corrections spokesman Tom Shaer.
There is an ongoing effort to have McCormack committed indefinitely to state custody under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act. The next hearing on the matter is June 12.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office issued a sexually violent person petition in 2009, which kept McCormack in custody at the treatment facility.
Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, said the new charge bolsters the state’s case in labeling McCormack a sexually violent person.
“We could use it as proof of other crimes in that era. The ultimate goal here is to have him declared sexually violent because he only received five years sentence on all five cases. Under Illinois law, he would have been out of prison after 2- ½ years. Our office is working with the [Illinois] Attorney General’s office to have him declared sexually violent.”
McCormack was originally arrested for sex crimes in January 2006. He was removed from the priesthood in November 2007 and pleaded guilty that year to abusing five children while he was a parish priest at St. Agatha on Chicago’s West Side. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
On Wednesday night, Susan Burritt, a Chicago Archdiocese spokeswoman, told the Sun-Times she was unaware of McCormack’s most recent arrest.
“Daniel J. McCormack is no longer a priest. He was laicized in November 2007,” Burritt said in an email, using the formal term for the removal of clerical status.
Barbara Blaine, founder and president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued a statement Wednesday evening: “We are grateful for the victim and police who are working to get Fr. Daniel McCormack locked up again. He’s one of Illinois’ most egregious predator priests.”
Contributing: Rummana Hussain, Mitch Dudek