Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Accused pedophile priest taken off city’s website

Accused pedophile priest taken off city’s website

Victims want answers on Berwyn’s alleged “investigation”

Group also blasts Catholic officials over “continuing inaction”

SNAP urges church officials to tell flock and citizens about predator

Worried that a predator ex-priest walks free and may still be on the payroll of a Chicago suburb, clergy sex abuse victims are now asking city officials to clarify his status and whereabouts while reaching out to others he may have hurt. Victims also want Catholic officials to do more to locate and help other victims.

Leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (www.snapnetwork.org), are concerned about Fr. Frank Paduch, who allegedly molested five children in the 1980s. Since 2005, Paduch has worked for the City of Berwyn. He was suspended in mid-January, after SNAP publicly disclosed the accusations against him and the fact that a civil child sex abuse lawsuit against him was settled in 1999. City officials said they’d launch an investigation into Paduch’s past.

In a letter sent today, leaders of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (www.snapnetwork.org), are urging Berwyn Mayor Robert J. Lovero to disclose the results of their investigation.

“It’s been more than a month since Berwyn suspended Paduch and more than a decade since Catholic officials settled a child sex abuse lawsuit against him,” said Barbara Blaine of SNAP. “It’s time for clarity, honesty and outreach by both entities. The public, parishioners, taxpayers, Catholics and victims deserve no less.”

On January 14, SNAP submitted a letter to the Berwyn City Hall asking for an investigation into Paduch’s past.

On January 22, a Texas bishop admitted that Paduch has been defrocked because of credible child sex abuse allegations there.

Recently, Paduch’s name reportedly disappeared from the town’s website where he is employed as “Senior Advocate.” Neighbors say he hasn’t been seen around his apartment in the suburb and that men have moved furniture out.

“That suggests your town has made some findings or decisions about his future with Berwyn,” said SNAP’s letter. “If this is true, you owe the public an explanation of both why he’s not with Berwyn any more and of how he got hired in the first place, given the serious allegations against him.”

The support group also believes Catholic authorities should speak out, warn the public and reveal what they know about Paduch's history of abusing children.

“Without a peep, Catholic officials settled a child sex abuse case against Paduch, and their silence no doubt helped this predator get a taxpayer-funded job working across the street from a school,” said Blaine. “This is essentially what the church hierarchy has done for decades – deal secretly with predators and enable them to go elsewhere and put other kids at risk.”

Specifically SNAP wants the Chicago archdiocese and a religious order called the Augustinians, which employed Paduch, to use church websites and newsletters to urge anyone with information about his crimes to call law enforcement.

“For the sake of public safety, this is the absolute bare minimum Cardinal (Francis) George and other church staffers should do,” Blaine said.

SNAP alleges Paduch, who has worked for the city since July of 2005, lives with Josh Hamilton, a registered sexual offender. Hamilton, who shares the same address as Paduch, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Tennessee, according to the Illinois Sex Offender Information registry.

Berwyn City Administrator’s is Brian Pabst and the town’s Police Chief is William Kushner.

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