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Chicago Archdiocese to pay $3.2 million to abuse victim

7-2-07 Rev. Daniel McCormack stands in a security line at 26th & Calif. to plead guilty to charges involving sexual abuse of five boys. Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago will pay $3.2 million to a teen who, from the ages of 10 to 12, was sexually abused by the now-defrocked priest Daniel McCormack.

That’s according to the attorney who announced the multimillion-dollar settlement on behalf of his client, a victim whose identity was kept confidential.

The victim sued the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George in 2007, claiming that they failed to stop McCormack from having access to children while he served as a priest, teacher and coach at St. Agatha Parish and Our Lady of the Westside School on Chicago’s West Side.

McCormack was arrested in January 2006 and charged with multiple counts of criminal sexual assault and subsequently pleaded guilty to charges involving five minor boys – including the victim who received the settlement.

The victim was sexually abused by McCormack between the fifth and seventh grades, and McCormack has pleaded guilty to abuse in connection with his case, his attorney William Martin said.

Now 18 and a high school graduate who has undergone weekly therapy sessions, the victim – who lives in the Chicago area – has the money to continue with counseling and pursue his dreams of college and, one day, owning his own business, Martin said.

“It provides a whole new set of options and opportunities for him,” Martin told the Sun-Times. “He has an opportunity, too, to end the cycle of violence that occurs with some of these kids who are victims” of child sexual abuse by continuing in therapy, he said, adding: “Hopefully he’ll move on and get married and have children one day and have a happy life.”

But there’s still some work ahead: The teen still avoids even passing by a church and loses his breath if he sees someone who bears a physical likeness to McCormack.

The Archdiocese issued a statement noting that civil claims tied to the five victims in the criminal case that McCormack pleaded guilty to have been resolved. But Martin said he has two other suits pending involving alleged victims of McCormack’s. Those also involve allegations that George and the church failed to remove McCormack in a timely manner and prevent him from having access to children.

Officials would not comment further, saying they wouldn’t go into specific details “out of respect for the privacy of all involved.”

It continued, “The Archdiocese affirms its long-standing practice of reaching out to all victims of misconduct by clergy to resolve their claims in a just, compassionate and respectful way and continues to work for the healing of all those affected by the tragedy of child and adolescent sexual abuse.”