Ex-pastor charged with sexual assault in Evanston hit with 2 counts of sex abuse

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Former priest Kenneth Lewis, 62, has pleaded guilty to a felony count of sexual abuse.

Kenneth Lewis, 56, is charged with sexual assault in a case stemming from the 2001 abuse of a 13-year-old boy in an Evanston hotel room. | Evanston Police Department

Evanston Police Department

A former Catholic priest charged with sexually assaulting a boy nearly two decades ago in an Evanston hotel room was hit Wednesday with two additional felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Kenneth Lewis, a 56-year-old former pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was arrested earlier this month after he got off an airplane in Atlanta.

He was charged with one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child for an alleged attack on a 13-year-old boy while they were on a trip in late July 2001, according to Evanston police.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the additional charges stemmed from the same hotel room incident. Prosecutors are expected to outline their accusations at a Friday bond hearing in Skokie.

Lewis’ family posted a $10,000 bond for his release, according to private attorney Stephen M. Komie, who called the timing of the charges “curious.”

The alleged victim’s parents originally filed a report in June 2004 with Tulsa police, who referred the case to Evanston police. An arrest warrant for Lewis was issued last December.

Lewis had a home address in Colorado and had been living in Ecuador from July 2017 until he was arrested by federal agents at the Atlanta airport on May 8. He has since surrendered his passport, though a judge on Saturday denied prosecutors’ request to place him on house arrest.

Komie said Lewis denies the “historical” allegations and will plead not guilty.

Lewis attended Mundelein Seminary between 1987 and 1991, though he never was assigned to a Chicago-area parish, according to the Chicago Archdiocese.

Authorities investigated molestation accusations against Lewis from as many as six alleged victims dating back to the early 1990s, according to news reports at the time. The statute of limitations expired in those cases.

Lewis was defrocked from the Tulsa Diocese in 2007, the same year he was accused in a civil lawsuit in Chicago of molestation at an Evanston hotel. That suit was withdrawn in 2009.

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