Evergreen Park priest accused of sexual abuse removed from ministry

September 25, 2012

Rebecca Kruth

A priest from a southwestern Chicago suburb has been removed from ministry after being accused of sexual abuse.

The Archdiocese of Chicago says after the allegations surfaced in June, Rev. Gary Miller of St. Bernadette’s Parish in Evergreen Park left the church voluntarily. The misconduct allegedly took place more than 30 years ago while Miller was serving at St. Leonard Parish in Berwyn.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney were both made immediately aware of the situation, the archdiocese said in a statement.

The Independent Review Board found the accusations to be credible and recommended the priest be removed from the ministry, according to the archdiocese.

Barbara Blaine heads the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.  She fears Miller and other priests accused of sexual abuse aren’t seen as serious predators if the allegations occur years after the misconduct.

“If he (Miller) has successfully been kept from law enforcement, and the statute of limitations has run, and they can’t prosecute him criminally, his name will never go on a sex offender registry.  It doesn’t make the potential for his abuse any less serious,” Blaine said.

In Illinois, the statute of limitations for childhood sex abuse runs out 20 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.

The archdiocese says other parishes where Miller served have been made aware of the situation in case there are other potential victims. So far, no additional allegations have been made.

Miller is currently residing in a “private location” away from the parish. He has agreed to participate in the Prayer and Penance Program, a child abuse prevention program managed by the Archdiocesan Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, the archdiocese said.

Cardinal George has named Rev. Monsignor Wayne Prist as administrator of St. Bernadette Parish until a new pastor is announced sometime in October.