US sex abuse victim sues Vatican for cover-up
CHICAGO—The mother of a Chicago boy abused by a Roman Catholic priest sued the Vatican Wednesday for its alleged role in covering up clergy sex abuse.
The case comes just weeks after a landmark ruling in Oregon in which the Vatican was ordered for the first time to produce documents and answer questions under oath about its role in supervising a priest accused of a long pattern of child sex abuse.
Lawyer Jeffrey Anderson – who is also pursuing the Oregon case – said the boy’s mother is suing the Holy See out of frustration with its failure to protect children from known abusers.
“The reason we have to do this is because Daniel McCormack is just one of many offenders who’ve been allowed to offend in secret,” Anderson told reporters.
“Until there is change at the top, children remain at risk.”
The boy’s family reached a $1.6 million settlement in 2008 with the Archdiocese of Chicago after McCormack pleaded guilty to molesting five boys.
Several boys were abused after McCormack was allowed to continue working at a Catholic school following previous complaints and his 2005 arrest.
“This case is without any merit,” said Jeffrey Lena, a lawyer who represents the Holy See in clergy sex abuse cases.
“The complaint rehashes the same tired theories already rejected by US courts. The plaintiff already received payment from the Archdiocese of Chicago and released all further claims. And, importantly, the Holy See had no factual involvement in this matter whatsoever.”
Anderson said the Oregon precedent opens the Vatican up to potential liability in clergy sex abuse cases, which have bankrupted eight US dioceses.
The Oregon judge is considering whether the Vatican can be considered the employer of abusive priests and thus liable for their actions.
The Vatican has successfully argued in previous cases that while it has spiritual control over clergy, it is not an employer because local dioceses have control over temporal issues.
Anderson believes he can reopen the Chicago case because the Vatican was not party to the settlement and said he has a body of new evidence that leads “from McCormack to the pope.”
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