Archdiocese of Chicago settles McCormack abuse case for $3.2 million

Sex offender priest still in mental health facility

November 15, 2011

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(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
In this Feb. 2, 2006 file photo, Father Daniel McCormack is seen leaving a Chicago court.

Attorneys for a victim of Daniel McCormack, the former priest and convicted sex offender, say they’ve reached a $3.2 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George.

The Chicago-based law firms of Hilfman & Martin and Abels & Annes announced the agreement in a press release Tuesday.

The attorneys say the victim was between the ages of 10 and 12 when McCormack abused him. He’s one of the five victims McCormack admitted to abusing when the former priest pleaded guilty in 2007. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese says this settles the last of those five claims.

The lawsuit claimed church leaders failed to keep McCormack away from children even though they knew he had allegedly sexually abused minors.

William Martin, one of the attorneys for the victim, says he's pleased with the settlement.

"The plaintiff was able to stand up and look the Archdiocese in the face and say what happened to me shouldn't have happened, and you need to prevent this from happening again," Martin says.

He called it a step toward justice.

"Clearly, in our society, we need for decision-makers when they're presented with an option to protect themselves, their boss, their church, their school, their other, to stand up and protect children," Martin says.

He says settlements like this will help hold the Archdiocese accountable and get the word to victims so they can tell their stories.

The Archdiocese says in a statement that it does not comment on the specific details of settlements in such cases “out of respect for the privacy of all involved.” But it says victim-survivors can if they choose to do so, and it goes on to state: “The Archdiocese affirms its long-standing practice of reaching out to all victims of misconduct by clergy to resolve their claims in a just, compassionate and respectful way and continues to work for the healing of all those affected by the tragedy of child and adolescent sexual abuse.”

In August 2005, police arrested McCormack and released him without filing charges. According to records, the Cardinal’s sexual-abuse review board urged McCormack’s removal from ministry in October 2005, but the Cardinal didn’t follow that recommendation. The Cardinal didn’t remove Father McCormack from ministry until after his second arrest in January 2006.  

After McCormack’s guilty plea, several other alleged victims came forward. At least two other civil cases are pending.

McCormack served 2 1/2 years of a five-year prison sentence. He remains in a mental health facility. The state is seeking to have him committed indefinitely under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act.