First of all, let it be said that Bishop Imesch, several years ago, unintentionally provided us with the statment that became, in many minds, the most unfortunate motto of his confreres and their dealings with abusive clergy. Remember this? (link is to a cached mention on Al Kresta's old discussion board. Best link I could find without digging through newspaper archives)
Q. I mean, if you had a child, wouldn't you be concerned that the priest they were saying mass with had been convicted of sexually molesting children?
A. I don't have any children.
There has been more attention to Joliet this week, as a 2005 deposition in which Imesch was questioned has been unsealed. Several stories are linked here.
Imesch gave the deposition as part of a civil suit filed in DuPage County by a Glen Ellyn man who alleges he was molested by former priest Edward Stefanich in 1969.
In the deposition, Imesch admits that there were several priests he allowed to continue in the ministry even though he had concluded there were credible allegations of sexual abuse against them. But he said he allowed them to keep their jobs because they went through therapy.
The bishop also said he didn't remove Stefanich from his post at a church in Woodridge even after he received reports in 1985 and 1987 that the priest was dating an underage girl. Stefanich wasn't removed from the ministry until after he was later arrested by police.
In another instance, Imesch admitted being aware that a priest in Lombard, the Rev. Larry Gibbs, went swimming in the nude with pre-teen boys, and then played "boys' games" with them while naked. Still, after seeing a psychiatrist, Gibbs was transferred to another parish in Lockport. Imesch admitted he didn't alert parishioners to the priest's past, although he claims he told the pastor at the new church. Gibbs was later accused of abusing a child at the new church.
He was referring to the release of a deposition in which he admitted not removing priests despite credible abuse allegations against them, and acknowledged he knew about reports that the Rev. Larry Gibbs went skinny-dipping with boys and played naked games with them. After he saw a psychiatrist, Gibbs was moved from Lombard to Lockport, where he was later accused of abuse.
Imesch said his response should be viewed in context. Most of the cases occurred decades ago, he said, "before psychologists recognized that behavior ... was indicative of a severe problem that could not be adequately treated. ... I would never have returned a priest into ministry if I had not been assured by professional therapists that he was ready to return."
"The media reports tend to portray me as someone who doesn't care about the safety of children. Nothing could be further from the truth. I became a priest because I care," Imesch said.
Tired, tired, tired of the "therapists" excuse. Priest who swims naked with boys needs to be laicized yesterday.