Former priest gets 7 years for sexual abuse of boy at Evanston hotel

Kenneth Lewis, 62, entered the plea Thursday to a felony count of aggravated sexual abuse in a deal with Cook County prosecutors that saw other charges against him dropped, including predatory criminal sexual assault.

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A former Catholic priest has been sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting a boy more than two decades ago at an Evanston hotel.

Kenneth Lewis, 62, entered the plea Thursday to felony aggravated sexual abuse in a deal with Cook County prosecutors that saw other charges dropped, including predatory criminal sexual assault, court records show.

Lewis was immediately sentenced by Cook County Judge Anjana Hansen and will be required to register as a sex offender for life after his release.

Known as “Father Ken,” Lewis was charged in 2018.

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

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

Evanston Police Department

The former Tulsa, Oklahoma, pastor was accused of sexually assaulting the 13-year-old boy on a trip in the summer of 2001, the Sun-Times previously reported. The boy’s parents filed a report with the Tulsa police in June 2004. Authorities in Oklahoma referred the case to the Evanston police, who sought charges 14 years later.

Lewis was living in South America at the time a warrant was issued for his arrest and was taken into custody after flying to Atlanta in 2017.

Six people have come forward with sexual abuse complaints against Lewis, who was ordered to get treatment by church officials in 1994, according to news reports.

After Lewis finished treatment, he was ordered not to spend time alone with children, but he still served as an associate pastor at Oklahoma churches before being appointed pastor of St. John’s Catholic Church in McAlester, Oklahoma.

Lewis resigned from that position in 2002 after diocesan officials renewed investigations into accusations that he improperly touched young boys in the 1990s. In 2007, he was the first pastor in the Tulsa diocese to become laicized, disallowed from further work as an ordained minister.

The same year, the parents of an alleged abuse victim filed a lawsuit in Chicago, accusing Lewis of molesting their son in 2001 at an Evanston hotel. Court records show the lawsuit was withdrawn in July 2009.

More coverage

Related past Sun-Times coverage on Catholic clergy sexual abuse.

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