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New sex abuse allegations filed against former Joliet diocese priest

Updated: June 27, 2012 9:32PM



New allegations of sexual abuse are being leveled at a former priest from the Diocese of Joliet already accused of molesting several young boys in the 1970s.

Terence Breen sued Lawrence Gibbs and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet in Will County Circuit Court this week. He claims Gibbs gave several young boys alcohol and pornography during a retreat at a Wisconsin cabin in 1977, had them play games, swim and perform other activities naked.

And he said Gibbs took him into a cabin bedroom to molest him in 1978.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Joliet didn’t return a call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

Gibbs has already been named as a defendant in three civil lawsuits alleging he sexually abused two boys from Lombard and one from Lockport while serving as a parish priest in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were settled in the late 1990s for undisclosed sums. No criminal charges were filed.

Breen, now of St. Charles, said he went to catechism school at St. James the Apostle Catholic Church in Glen Ellyn, and Gibbs supervised the children during religious retreats in 1977 and 1978 when Breen was 15 and 16. He said boys were given alcohol and pornography both years, but it was 1978 when he encountered Gibbs in the hallway after he left the restroom in the middle of the night.

He said Gibbs took him into his bedroom, put on pornography and molested him. Both years, Breen said, he swore the boy to strict secrecy.

Breen’s attorney, Mark R. McKenna of the Chicago-based law firm Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, said Breen was far from Gibbs’ only victim.

“Father Gibbs was a predator who attacked many, many children,” McKenna said.

Breen is also suing the Diocese of Joliet, alleging it should have known about Gibbs’ sexual abuse of the young boys. And he named Gibbs’ estate in the complaint because, McKenna said, he believes Gibbs is dead.

McKenna said his client brought his lawsuit now — about 35 years after the alleged abuse — because it takes many years for victims of sexual abuse to come to terms with what happened.

“Your instinct is to lock it away,” McKenna said.



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