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Former Oak Park Priests Named in Archdiocese's Sex Abuse Documents

Three priests who served at St. Catherine of Siena in Oak Park were among 30 Chicago area priests accused of abusing minors, according to documents released this week by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Among the 30 area priests accused of abusing minors in documents made public this week by the Archdiocese of Chicago were three who served at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Oak Park, the Wednesday Journal reported Thursday.

According to the documents at www.abusedinchicago.com/John Curran was the only priest who received allegations of abuse during his time at St. Catherine of Siena between 1966 to 1970, though the alleged incidents did not take place at St. Catherine.

The allegations against Curran date back to 1955, with the most recent incident reported in 1989. His victims were both males and females.

Curran was forced to resign from his position in 1992. He was suspended from all ministry in 1996 after he repeatedly refused to seek treatment despite instructions from Cardinal Bernardin. He was soon reinstated and placed back in a parish and reinstated as a priest. He retired in 1999 and died in 2000.

James Hagan served at St. Catherine of Siena from 1974-1981. He was accused in 1996 of sexually abusing four minors between 1981 and 1986, and again in 2003 of abusing a victim in 1982 at the rectory at St. Richard's, a movie theater and an amusement park. He resigned from ministry in 1997.

Bishop Raymond Goedert admitted in 2007 that Hagan was promoted after the Archdiocese learned of "credible allegations of abuse," according to the documents.

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Robert Mayer, who served at St. Catherine from 1964-1969, was accused of abusing minors after he left the Oak Park church. He was convicted of felony child sex abuse in 1992.

According to the documents, the Archdiocese told Mayer to to resign from his parish following allegations he abused boys at St. Edna's in 1986. He was removed from ministry in 1991 after a TV station reported on a civil sex abuse settlement involving one of his victims. 

The allegations include incidents that span between 1974 and 1991, and range from sexual jokes and showing children pornography to oral sex. The youngest victims were between seven and nine years old, according to the document.

A news release from the Archdiocese reads, "The Archdiocese acknowledges that its leaders made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify. They made those decisions in accordance with the prevailing knowledge at the time. In the past 40 years, society has evolved in dealing with matters related to abuse. Our understanding of and response to domestic violence, sexual harassment, date rape, and clerical sexual abuse have undergone significant change and so has the Archdiocese of Chicago. 

"While we complied with the reporting laws in place at the time, the Church and its leaders have acknowledged repeatedly that they wished they had done more and done it sooner, but now are working hard to regain trust, to reach out to victims and their families, and to make certain that all children and youth are protected."

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