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Cardinal George resisted removing accused priest, sought to free convicted priest

Cardinal Francis George  |  Michael Jarecki/For Sun-Times Media

Cardinal Francis George | Michael Jarecki/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 23, 2014 6:38AM



The Archdiocese of Chicago swiftly pointed out Tuesday that the vast majority of sexual abuse allegations leveled in newly released records occurred years, even decades ago.

But those records show Cardinal Francis George testified in 2008 about the archdiocese’s handling under his leadership of sexual abuse allegations against the the Reverends Joseph Bennett, Norbert Maday and Daniel McCormack.

“What upsets me is the record of abuse,” George said in a 2008 deposition. “No matter when it happened.”

The records were released by a pair of attorneys whose clients have sued the archdiocese over abuse allegations and won settlements.

The archdiocese said in a written statement that 95 percent of the cases mentioned in the documents occurred before 1988. It said not one priest with a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor is serving in its ministry today.

George removed Bennett from the public ministry in February 2006. He had been accused of molesting two girls at St. John de la Salle in the late 1960s. But records released Tuesday show accusers continued to come forward after Bennett was removed from the public ministry.

Bennett was not criminally charged, and he could not be reached Tuesday evening for comment.

Before he was removed from the ministry, he was watched by a monitor, the Rev. Leonard Dubi. An archdiocesan review board advised George against Dubi’s assignment to the task — Dubi and Bennett vacationed together in Mexico — but George did not replace him with a new monitor.

George also resisted the review board’s recommendation to remove Bennett from the ministry until February 2006, less than two weeks after McCormack was arrested for child sex abuse.

McCormack, who is now a convicted sex offender, allegedly abused children on George’s watch, between 2001 and 2006, while McCormack was stationed at St. Agatha Parish on Chicago’s West Side.

“The one egregious time when the protections of children failed to our great shame was the McCormack case where I had thought he was being supervised and it wasn’t adequate,” George testified in 2008.

Maday, meanwhile, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1994 for molesting two teenage boys in separate 1986 parish outings to Oshkosh, Wis.

Letters showed the archdiocese worked for years to free Maday before he served his full sentence.

But as more allegations piled up, George wrote a letter to the Wisconsin Parole Commission in 2007 withdrawing an earlier offer to provide monitoring and a place for Maday if he were to be released.

Contributing: Art Golab, Kim Janssen and Francine Knowles

Email: jseidel@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SeidelContent



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