In the late 1970s, the mother of three boys at a southwest suburban parish came to the church with disturbing allegations.
She told the associate pastor of St. Julie Billiart church in Tinley Park that her sons, ages 12, 10 and 7, were sexually abused by Father Michael Howard Weston, another associate pastor. And the alleged abuse happened when the boys were altar servers, including in the confessional, according to documents released by the Archdiocese of Chicago Thursday related to 36 priests who have substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct of minors.
Rev. William Eddy immediately reported the abuse to another priest, identified in church documents as Fr. A.J. McDonough. But the buck stopped there.
In a conversation summarized in a 2003 archdiocese memo, Eddy relayed that McDonough “didn’t respond well” to the report of sexual abuse.
The impression was that unless there were “pictures — [evidence of Fr. Weston sexually assaulting the boys],” there would be no investigation into the matter and “nothing would be done,” the memo said.
In speaking with the victims’ mother, Eddy told her he’d report the abuse and advised her whom to talk to within the archdiocese.
Eddy even spoke with Weston at the time, who told him “these kids…don’t know how to interpret me.” Eddy also warned him against “being around any kids,” the memo said.
He also spoke with the boys who alleged the abuse. The boys said Weston “laid on top of them.”
Eddy told the archdiocese in 2003 that in hindsight “he should have gone to the cardinal” after receiving the cold response.
Weston would go on to be a priest for 20 years, until a forced resignation in 1993 after Cardinal Joseph Bernardin himself urged he get help for alcohol addiction. Memos from priests he worked with described him as an “angry young man” and provided examples of outbursts in meetings, and signs of depression.
In a handwritten resignation dated Sept. 9, 1993, Weston wrote: “I resign from priesthood. Do not notify anyone of it, till [sic] I am notified that it is accepted.”
The brothers weren’t the only alleged victims. According to archdiocese records, there were at least five other victim statements, alleging abuse at four parishes.
Records show Weston left a suburban parish in 1988 to be an associate pastor at a student parish in Kalamazoo, Mich. While at the Michigan parish, a victim reported Weston would make sexual remarks to him and once made sexual advances toward him.
Weston was asked about one of the allegations in 2002, nine years after his resignation. In a phone call with the archdiocese’s Professional Fitness Review Administrator and Vicar for Priests, Weston “categorically denied all sexual contact,” with one victim, according to a memo, but said he did “wrestle with him and other people.”
He said it wasn’t for sexual gratification and “in hindsight, it was not a good idea.”
He admitted he let minors into his room . . .”and it was poor judgment.”
He said he would visit one of the victims at his home both invited and unannounced. He visited the boy 15 times over two years. He was sometimes by himself and other times with his family.
Responding to another allegation a year later, Weston was asked if he had taken his pants down in front of one of the victims.
“That never happened any time I was in the ministry. I never touched anyone’s genitals or had anyone touch mine,” he told the Professional Fitness Review Administrator, as well as the Vicar for Priests.
He ended his interview in saying some of the things that were alleged “just didn’t happen” and “I don’t remember.”
Weston was laicized by the archdiocese in 2010.