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Chicago archdiocese reaches $800,000 settlement over sex abuse claims involving civil rights activist priest

GEORGE CLEMENTS

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Zelda Caldwell - published on 04/28/22 - updated on 04/28/22

Rev. George Clements was accused of molesting a boy in the 1970s.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has agreed to a settlement of $800,000 over charges that a well-known priest sexually abused a boy between 1974 and 1979. The settlement included sexual abuse charges against four other clergy members. 

Fr. George Clements, who died in 2019 at the age of 87, served as pastor of Holy Angels Parish from 1969 to 1991. In 1969 he became the second Black Catholic pastor in Chicago, and he was well known for his involvement in civil rights activism. 

In 1980, Clements  adopted four teenage boys. Their story was the subject of a 1987 movie,”The Father Clements Story,” starring Louis Gossett Jr. as Clements, Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Joey and Carroll O’Connor as Cardinal John Cody.

In  2019, Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, asked Clements to step down due to charges of sexual abuse of a 7-year old boy that took place in 1974. The archdiocese later dismissed the allegations.

On Tuesday, the settlement was announced over abuse claims involving a now 54-year-old man, who said he was 7 years old when the abuse started.

“My client was sexually abused for five years, from approximately 1974 to 1979,” attorney Mitchell Garabedian said, according to an ABC7 report. “He was sexually abused in the rectory of Holy Angels Church, in Father Clement’s car and on a camping trip.”

The settlement also named four other clergy members: Father Daniel Holihan, Father Joseph Fitzharris, Father Michael Weston and Brother Edward Courtney. 

Wisconsin clergy sex abuse charges

A monk at a Catholic school in Aurora, Wisconsin, has been charged with sexually abusing a former student.

Joseph J. Charron, 66, is charged with eight counts of sex abuse and assault for having nonconsensual sexual contact with the student before and after his graduation, Aurora police said, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report. The alleged victim contacted authorities about the incidents in 2021. 

Charron, who is known as “Brother Andre,” was a teacher at Marion Academy. He has been placed on administrative leave and barred from the campus.

School officials issued a written statement saying, “We pray for all who have been impacted by this and we pray for the healing of those involved and for all the members of our Marmion family.”

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