Diocese of Peoria removes retired priests from ministry due to credible sexual abuse allegations

Local News
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The Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Thursday that Bishop Daniel R. Jenky has required these three retired priests to step down from public ministry due to each having credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

The decision to remove Father George Hiland, Father Duane Leclercq and Father John Onderko came upon an unanimous vote of the Diocesan Review Commission. 

Hiland is alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor approximately fifty year ago.

Leclercq has been alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor approximately thirty years ago. 

Onderko has been alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor approximately fifty-five years ago.   

Effective immediately, the three fathers can no longer function as Catholic priests in any public capacity, wear clerical garb or the Roman collar and are to refrain from using the title “Reverend” or “Father.” 

It is the policy of the Diocese to report all allegations of child sexual abuse to the proper State’s Attorney.  Accordingly, these allegations have been reported to the proper State’s Attorneys. 

Hiland’s assignments while serving in the Diocese of Peoria included: St. Stephen, Streator (1958-1971), St. Patrick, Arlington (1971-1976), St. John the Baptist, Fairbury and St. James, Forrest (1976-1992), St. Patrick, Dwight (1992-1994), Senior Status (1994). 

Duane Leclercq’s assignments while serving in the Diocese of Peoria included:  Holy Trinity, Bloomington (1964-1968), St. Mark, Peoria (1968-1971), St. Mary, Moline (1971-1973), St. Vincent de Paul, Peoria (1973-1976), Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur (19761979), St. Edward, Chillicothe (1979-1982), Director of Teens Encounter Christ, with residence at St. Bernard, Peoria (1982-1983), St. John, Clinton, and St. Patrick, Wapella (1983-1989), St. Theresa, Earlville (1989-1991), St. Boniface, Peoria  (1991-1994), St. Patrick, Dwight (1994), St. Patrick, LaSalle (1994-2003), Sacred Heart, Granville and St. Patrick, Hennepin (2003-2008), Senior Status (2008). 

John Onderko’s assignments while serving in the Diocese of Peoria included:  St. Hyacinth, LaSalle (1962), Sacre Coeur, Creve Coeur (1962-1965), St. Hyacinth (19651980), Holy Cross, Mendota and Sts. Peter and Paul, Peterstown (1980-1981), St. Mary, Moline (1981-1993), Resurrection, LaSalle (1993-2005), Senior Status (2005). 

The announcement comes after a lawsuit that was filed against Catholic bishops and diocese around the state of Illinois in October. The Diocese of Peoria and Jenky are named in the lawsuit.

Multiple people claimed to have been abused, and spoke out publicly regarding the Illinois dioceses’ failures to act on allegations of sexual abuse. The suit claims the bishops have known about the incidents for years. 

Thursday, the Diocese of Peoria said Jenky continues to pray daily for all victims of sexual abuse.

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