Joliet Diocese, priest sued after alleged sex assault at Kankakee mental health center

The lawsuit claims the Rev. Richard Jacklin sexually assaulted a mentally and physically impaired patient while Jacklin worked at the Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.

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A lawsuit filed Oct. 30, 2019, accuses a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Joliet of sexually assaulting a man in Kankakee.

Sun-Times file photo

A lawsuit has been filed against a retired Joliet Diocese priest who already faces criminal charges that he sexually abused a man in 2017 at a Kankakee development center.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday by the estate of the alleged victim, claims the Rev. Richard Jacklin, 67, sexually assaulted a mentally and physically impaired patient while Jacklin worked at the Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.

The suit also alleges the Catholic Diocese of Joliet and Bishop Daniel Conlon, also named as defendants, were aware or should have been aware of past allegations of inappropriate conduct by Jacklin.

Richard Jacklin

Richard Jacklin

Illinois State Police arrest photo

Jacklin is a defendant in Kankakee County criminal court, where he was charged in 2017 with two felony counts of sex assault and a felony count of sexual misconduct involving a person with disabilities, according to court records. His next court date is Nov. 7.

On Oct. 31, 2017, a nurse at the developmental center walked into a room and witnessed Jacklin allegedly performing a sex act on a 39-year-old man, the lawsuit states. The alleged victim is paralyzed and has a mental disability.

“This is yetanother tragic example of a priest using his position of power and trust to hurt a vulnerable victim he was supposed to be trying to help,” Tim Cavanagh, attorney for the plaintiff, said in a statement.

Jacklin was ordained in 1984 and served in the Joliet Diocese since 1996, according to the suit. He worked as a priest at the developmental center for 19 years.

The alleged victim is a ward of Illinois’ Office of the State Guardian, whose director, Barry Lowy, is named as a plaintiff along with the unnamed victim. The suit is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

After the incident, the Illinois Department of Human Services, which runs Shapiro Developmental Center, discontinued the use of priests from the Catholic Diocese of Joliet at the center, according to department spokesman Patrick Laughlin. He said that IDHS has not used the Diocese’s services since the incident.

Catholic Diocese of Joliet spokesman Alex Rechenmacher declined to comment on the pending lawsuit. He said Jacklin does not have an assignment in the church, but could not say where he is living.

Jacklin was reportedly forced out of a Naperville retirement home in 2018 after school district and police officials protested after learning he was living near Kennedy Junior High School in Lisle.

In 2015, the Diocese of Joliet paid more than $4 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged 14 men were abused by five of their childhood priests, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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