Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 14, 2013

Joliet diocese to make clergy-abuse records public


Associated Press

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JOLIET (AP) — Personnel files of more than a dozen former Diocese of Joliet priests considered sex offenders will be released as part of a settlement between the northern Illinois diocese and a man who sued over molestation he endured as a boy, the diocese announced.

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon said in a statement that the release of the internal records involving 15 priests complies with a judge's ruling lifting an order that protected files and documents of the "priest-offenders."

The diocese also agreed to add new names to the list of priests on its website who have had credible abuse allegations leveled against them. Fourteen of the 34 priests on the list are dead.

The settlement, which the diocese announced Tuesday, resolved the lawsuit filed years ago by David Rudofski over what Conlon called "substantiated" sexual misconduct involving Father James Burnett, who was removed from the ministry in 2006.

Conlon said Rudofski also got an unspecified financial payout as part of the settlement.

"I realize the details that may be revealed are likely to open old wounds. I regret the pain that this information will cause victims/survivors, since many of them will vividly recall what they endured as if it happened yesterday," Conlon said, calling the diocese's history of child abuse "tragic."

"Unfortunately the dark cloud of the history of child abuse in this diocese has imposed itself almost every day," added Conlon, who has been the diocese's bishop since 2011. "No human action, really, can fix the past. My focus is on the future, trying to do everything in my power to assure that the children of this diocese are safe."