Lawsuits allege abuse at West Side Presbyterian ministries

SHARE Lawsuits allege abuse at West Side Presbyterian ministries

Two separate lawsuits filed by seven men allege a series of sexual abuses against adolescent boys by a Presbyterian pastor from the early 1980s through the late ’90s at ministries in the Austin and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods.

The suits were filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court by John Does 1-3 and John Does 1-4, respectively.

The suit filed by John Does 1-4 said they were molested by Pastor Douglas Mason at San Marcos Youth Ministry. The men were between 11 and 14 years old when they were abused at different points between 1991 and 1999, the suit claims.

Mason allegedly paid for the boys’ tuition to St. Gregory the Great High School and would check each of them out of class at least once a month to molest them. The suit also lists the Archdiocese of Chicago, which runs the high schools as a defendant, claiming administrators never reported those visits to the boys’ parents or guardians.

That suit also claims the Presbytery of Chicago, which ran the youth ministry, acted negligently. The Presbytery could not be reached Thursday night for comment, and a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese said officials there had not yet reviewed the suit.

The second suit was filed by three more men who claim they were between 11 and 13 when they were abused. Their lawsuit alleges Mason sexually abused them between 1982 and 1986, including inside Austin United Presbyterian Church.

In both suits, the men allege the Presbytery of Chicago ignored warnings that Mason was a pedophile.

A statement was issued Thursday by Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, asking for action from Catholic and Presbyterian officials on the allegations.

“They can sit comfortably in their fancy offices, hiding behind expensive lawyers and using smart public relations professionals to duck, dodge and deny,” the statement said. “Or they can get out into local churches, act like real shepherds, and seek out young men who may have suffered horrific childhood trauma…”

The 81-page suit filed by the four John Does seeks more than $1.2 million in damages.

The 37-page, nine-count complaint filed by the other three men alleges negligence and fraudulent concealment, and seeks more than $450,000 in damages.

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