29 Catholic Diocese of Peoria clergy accused of sexual abuse by law firm, Diocese responds

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Twenty-nine priests who served in the Catholic Diocese of Peoria were accused of sexual abuse by a law firm on Wednesday.

Jeff Anderson and Associates is holding a press conference in Chicago to announce the 185-page report that lists the names of every Catholic priest and lay person in Illinois who has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct.

29 of those names on Anderson’s Report are clergy from the Diocese of Peoria, and at least 11 of the clergy named are deceased.

The report identifies: Fr. John C. Anderson, Msgr. Charles J. Beebe, Fr. Walter A. Breuning, Fr. Edward E. Bush, Fr. Terry Cassidy, Fr. Louis M. Condon, Fr. Robert J. Creager, Fr. Francis Engels, Msgr. Norman D. Goodman, Fr. William Harbert, Fr. George H. Hiland, Fr. William Iserman, Fr. Duane Leclercq, Fr. Thomas W. Maloney, Fr. Frank R. Martinez, Jr., Fr. Thomas R. Miller, Fr. John M. Onderko, Fr. Toussaint J. Perron, W.F, Fr. Gordon J. Pillon, Fr. Jerry (Jerome) R. Pilon, Fr. Gregory J. Plunkett, Fr. Samuel D. Pusateri, Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts, Fr. Ronald W. Roth, Fr. Richard Slavish, Fr. Bernard (B.J.) Tomaszewski, Fr. John B. Turnbull, Fr. Michael R. Van Acker and Fr. William D. Virtue as those who allegedly sexually assaulted children.

Of the 29 listed, 22 have already been “credibly accused” by the Diocese.

In almost all 29 cases, abuse survivors claim their accusations happened years before any clergy were actually removed. Anderson met with sexual abuse survivors to tell the world how they feel now that the information has been released, and the response was one of relief that finally the men they they accused of abusing them are facing justice.

“The Catholic Church has been nothing but deceitful as you know, and lying for many many years.  The priest that abused me was moved to 8 different parishes and he was moved to those parishes for what reason?  Was it in the best interest of the Catholic children?  Absolutely  not, because he abused in every parish that he went to,” said sexual abuse survivor Joe Lacono.

The report goes into detail regarding when they were involved with the diocese and their assignments. It also provides backstories about each of the allegations. 

The Anderson Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese and Dioceses in Illinois also accuses priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Diocese of Belleville, the Diocese of Joliet, the Diocese of Rockford and the Diocese of Springfield. 

The report also accuses Religious Clergy and Lay Persons in Illinois, with eight priests or laypersons within the Peoria diocese listed. 

“All I wanted, was for people to know he’s still alive, he’s in a parish with children, it’s a parish connected to a school.  And the parents there deserve to know,” said survivor Cindy Yesko.

Just before 4:30 p.m., the Catholic Diocese of Peoria responded to the report:

Today, Attorney Jeff Anderson published a lengthy report providing the names of various priests across the state of Illinois that he claimed had allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.   
 
The section of this report that directly pertains to the Diocese of Peoria lists 29 priests.  26 of these 29 priests have been listed on the Diocese of Peoria website for some time and have been made publically known.  These 26 priests have been reported to the appropriate State’s Attorney. 
 
It is important to note that the majority of the 29 names released today are deceased.  Furthermore, the allegations of abuse dated back several decades. 
 
The Diocese of Peoria offers the following comments on the remaining three priests. 
 
Fr. Frank Martinez:   He is a priest of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and is listed on their diocesan website.   The Diocese of Peoria has never received an allegation of abuse regarding Fr. Martinez. 
 
Msgr. Charles Beebe:   Jeff Anderson’s report today stated that the Diocese of Peoria only reported this case after a lawsuit was filed.  This is completely false.   
 
In June 2018, the Diocese of Peoria received an allegation that Msgr. Beebe sexually abused a person in 1981 (37 years ago).  Msgr. Beebe was immediately placed on administrative leave and cooperated with the investigation.  This allegation was immediately reported to the Peoria Police Department.  The police investigated this accusation and reviewed Msgr. Beebe’s personnel file.  They concluded their investigation and acknowledged the Diocese’s cooperation in this matter.  This allegation was taken to our Diocesan Review Commission.  The Commission unanimously determined that the allegation was unsubstantiated and could not be deemed credible.  Msgr. Beebe was reinstated in ministry.  Msgr. Beebe is a retired priest since 2016.  This case has been reported to the appropriate State’s Attorney.  All of these actions of the Diocese occurred months before any lawsuit being filed. 

Msgr. Thomas Maloney:    While Msgr. Maloney was alive, an allegation was received. He was immediately placed on administrative leave.  This allegation was taken to the Review Commission and it was unanimously determined to be unsubstantiated.   

Later after Maloney’s death, the Diocese entered into a settlement agreement.  As is often the case with settlements, the Diocese makes no admissions of liability.  This case has been reported to the appropriate State’s Attorney. 
 
Under the direction of Bishop Jenky, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria remains committed to maintaining a safe environment to all children.  

The attorneys have represented clergy abuse victims across the United States. 

The Diocese of Peoria was established in 1887. There are approximately 197 priests currently in the diocese. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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