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  Home :: 2007 February :: Former Phillips priest named in federal lawsuit
Former Phillips priest named in federal lawsuit
Chicago man claims Fitzmaurice, three others, raped him as a child; Attorney claims there are Wisconsin victims
Wednesday, February 07th, 2007 09:10:02 AM

AChicago man filed a civil lawsuit Jan. 29 alleging that Fr. TerranceFitzmaurice, who had served at Our Lady of the North Catholic Church inPhillips (St. Patrick’s and St. Mary’s), raped him 30 years ago.

Perry Collins, along with hismother Doris Thomas, also alleges that the city of Chicago, CatholicArchdiocese of Chicago, St. Procopius Abbey and the Order of St.Benedict in Lisle, Ill., conspired to cover up the priest’s actionsbecause he is an African American.

During an interview with FOX NewsChicago, Collins attorney Phillips Aaron also alleged that 15 boys hadfiled complaints against Fitzmaurice while he was assigned to St.Patrick’s, St. Mary’s and Our Lady of the North parishes in Phillips.

The Catholic Diocese of Superiorpreviously said there have been no reports of misconduct by Fitzmauricewhile serving in Phillips. Calls to the diocese concerning the latestaccusations were not returned prior to press time.

According to the lawsuit filed infederal court, Collins alleges that Fitzmaurice took him, then 10, to abuilding where he was given alcohol and raped by Fitzmaurice and threeother priests. The three priests are not identified in court papers.

After the alleged incident, Collins said Fitzmaurice took him home and promised his mother pastoral care and food.

At the time of the allegedincident Fitzmaurice was serving as a pastor at St. Procopius parish onChicago’s south side and supervised up to 400 young men and women aspart of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Summer Youth Employment Program. Theprogram received federal funds and the Archdiocese partnered with thecity to help screen job applicants.

In addition to the sexual assaultallegations, Collins and Thomas, claim the Chicago Archdiocese,Benedictine order and city of Chicago conspired to keep Fitzmaurice’sactions secret, allowed him to use federal and archdiocesan funds tocover up his alleged actions and conspired to perpetuate a fraud.

The suit also alleges Fitzmauriceviolated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by using his position as thesupervisor of the jobs program to target African-American and otherminority children for his alleged crimes.

Aaron had provided this accountto THE-BEE in November after the first reports of Fitzmaurice’s allegedmisconduct surfaced. He requested this information be kept confidentialat that time, since he was in negotiations with the Archdiocese, Orderand city concerning the matter.

However, in the ensuing months, discussion between Aaron and the defendants broke down.

“The Archdiocese wasn’t dealing in good faith,” Aaron said after filing the suit.

Aaron said Collins’ situationforced him to move forward with a lawsuit. He said Collins has neededextensive medical and psychological care and tried to commit suicidetwice, including hiring someone to kill him. Collins is now physicallydisabled due to a bullet lodged near his spinal cord from the attemptedsuicide.

“They said and promised things they didn’t follow through on. This young man’s life has been totally devastated,” Aaron said.

He added that the archdiocese hadagreed to commit $1,500 towards a doctor for Collins. That doctorcharges $4,000 and Collins is homeless and has no way to pay for thebills.

Aaron’s primary practice is basedin Seattle, but he has represented numerous African-American victims ofclergy abuse from the Chicago Archdiocese. He also foundedAfrican-American Advocates for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse.

What is in the lawsuit?

The lawsuit demands a jury trialand seeks damages for Collins’ and Thomas’ “great pain of mind andbody, shock, emotional distress including physical manifestations ofsuch distress, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, loss ofenjoyment of life, inability to perform daily activities, loss ofearning capacity, and has incurred and will continue to incur expensesfor medical and psychological treatment and counseling, and all otherdamages proven at trial.”

The suit seeks redress for eight alleged actions by Fitzmaurice, the church, order and city.

Those acts are:

• Battery – for the alleged acts involved in the sexual assaults.

• Intentional infliction ofemotional distress – because the defendants should have known that thealleged sexual assaults would cause severe emotional distress,especially since Collins was diagnosed as a mentally disabled child.

• False imprisonment – for allegedly holding Collins against his will.

• Fiduciary fraud and conspiracyto commit fiduciary fraud – since the church held itself out to beCollins’ religious, emotional and spiritual counselors, they created afiduciary relationship. The fraud occurred since the church did notallegedly obtain or disclose information concerning Fitzmaurice’ssexual misconduct.

• Negligent retention and/orsupervision – claims both the Archdiocese and Order knew or should haveknown about Fitzmaurice’s “dangerous and exploitive propensities” andthat he was “unfit.” It continues by alleging the church failed to warnCollins and his family of Fitzmaurice’s unfitness and allowed himcontinued and unfettered access to children and funds to silence hisvictims.

• Racial discrimination – becausethe city and church were receiving and managing federal funds inconnection with the summer youth jobs program, they were required toabide by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Civil Rights Act of 1893 and 14thAmendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The suits claims not only didFitzmaurice target minorities through the jobs program and allegedlyuse federal funds to maintain his secret, but that the Archdiocese andOrder continue to practice racial discrimination by not offering thesame assistance and redress to minority victims of clergy abuse, as isoffered to white victims.

• RICO violations (RacketeerInfluenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) – because the Archdiocese,Order and city entered into an enterprise relationship to conspire andconceal the sexual misconduct of Fitzmaurice and aiding him in evadingcriminal prosecution and liability. Among the charges the lawsuitalleges is that Fitzmaurice, the church and city allowed for thecreation of ghost workers on the jobs program payroll, falsifyingworkers ages to gain additional funds and using those funds totransport children for illegal purposes.

Typically, RICO violations are charged against organized crime syndicates and protesters that infringe on interstate commerce.

• Fraudulent concealment –because the defendants took specific actions to prevent Collins fromacknowledging his alleged injuries and kept him from revealing thenature of the relationship with Fitzmaurice.

The suit goes further; allegingthat the Archdiocese and Order knew of Fitzmaurice’s history of sexualabuse against minors and failed to disclose the acts alleged orfulfilled their fiduciary obligation to prevent the acts perpetratedagainst Collins. The Archdiocese and Order also failed to inform othersof Fitzmaurice’s history of pedophilia.

Aaron said now that the suit hasbeen filed, he and his client should be able obtain access to churchand order’s records concerning Fitzmaurice and others that may havebeen involved with this case.

He said he has at least 20 othermen who have told him similar stories concerning Fitzmaurice and awoman who worked in the St. Procopius rectory while Fitzmaurice servedthere has also provided information.

Aaron is continuing negotiationswith the Chicago Archdiocese and order in regards to the other men, buthe does not rule out filing more civil suits to get what his clientsneed.

In November 2006, the Archdioceseand the Order of St. Benedict agreed to pay a six-figure settlementwith three other clients of Aaron, who claimed to be molested byFitzmaurice.

Fitzmaurice has not been charged criminally in these or the previous allegations.

Fitzmaurice served in Phillipsfrom 1987 to 2000. He returned to the Lisle, Ill. abbey after hisretirement. Officials at the abbey said Fitzmaurice is in poor healthand living in a nursing home in northern Illinois.


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