A man who alleges he was a victim of sexual abuse by a former Catholic priest has settled his lawsuit for $2.3 million.
The plaintiff — who is identified as John C. Doe in the lawsuit — sued the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2014, alleging it placed former priest Daniel McCormack in positions of authority that required regular interaction with children despite having knowledge of prior sexual misconduct allegations against him.
McCormack served in the archdiocese’s seminarian system from 1986 until 1994 when he was ordained as a priest. During that time, Doe’s suit alleged, seminarian officials learned of allegations that McCormack had improper sexual contact with at least one young boy and made unwanted sexual advances toward other seminarians.
Despite learning of the allegations, Doe’s suit alleged, the archdiocese did not report McCormack to any civil or public authorities.
The Archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Schools also learned of allegations in 1999 that McCormack may have sexually abused a young boy while he served as sacramental minister at Holy Family Parish on West Roosevelt Road.
Officials also failed to report that allegation to the Department of Children and Family Services as mandated by Illinois’ Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, the suit alleged.
Cardinal Francis George appointed McCormack in 2000 to serve as pastor of St. Agatha's Catholic Church and Our Lady of the Westside School on the city’s West Side.
Doe lived with his grandmother across the street from the parish and would play basketball with the school’s team and other young parishioners from 2003 to 2005. Beyond serving as pastor, McCormack was both a teacher and basketball coach during that time.
Doe’s suit alleges McCormack would often ask for help with chores around the parish in exchange for his use of the basketball court.
Doe suffered one instance of abuse from McCormack in spring 2005 and another in early fall of that year, said Lyndsay A. Markley of the Law Offices of Lyndsay A. Markley who represented Doe.
“After the second act of abuse, it was more egregious than the first act of abuse and he did not return to St. Agatha’s,” she said.
Later that year, McCormack was arrested on sexual abuse charges.
Markley, who said she represents 35 male sexual abuse clients, said she noticed a common theme in reasons why they come forward with lawsuits.
“[T]hey hit a point in life where they can no longer function without acknowledging what happened to them, and part of acknowledging what happened to you is asking someone to validate your human [existence],” she said. “We all only have one, and these poor young men have had their innocence robbed, and it just is a tragedy because it did not have to happen.”
The archdiocese was represented by Burke Warren MacKay & Serritella P.C. partners James C. Geoly and Danielle J. Gould.
In a written statement, the archdiocese said it “does not comment on settlements out of respect for the privacy of those involved.”
Markley said Doe settled his case after a 10-hour mediation early last month before former Cook County judge Thomas L. Hogan. Circuit Judge Clare Elizabeth McWilliams entered an order Jan. 19 to dismiss the case.
“My hope is that moving forward with a more comfortable financial situation, he will be able to achieve any type of treatment he needs while being safe and cared for,” she said.
In its statement, the archdiocese also encouraged any unknown abuse victims to come forward.
“Complete information about reporting sexual abuse can be found on the archdiocesan website under Protecting Children at archchicago.org or by calling the Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review, (312) 534-5205 or (800) 994-6200, or the Office of Assistance Ministry, (312) 534-8267 or toll-free at (866) 517-4528,” it said in the statement.
The case is John C. Doe v. The Archdiocese of Chicago, et al., 14 L 4396.