Update regarding the matter of Fr. Robert A. Stepek
The Archdiocese of Chicago’s policies on sexual misconduct with minors are comprehensive protocols emphasizing prevention, protection and healing. These policies and procedures, in place since 1992 and amended in 2003, provide for receiving, reporting, reviewing, investigating, processing and resolving an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor. Responsible individuals within the Archdiocesan offices, schools and ministries promptly report all allegations to civil authorities and cooperate with them fully.
These policies and procedures were rigorously followed in Fr. Stepek’s case. The independent Review Board of the Archdiocese completed its inquiry regarding the allegations against Fr. Stepek and determined that there was reasonable cause to suspect that sexual abuse of minors occurred. Fr. Stepek was withdrawn from ministry and his case will be sent to the Holy See for its review and determination. Cardinal George’s acceptance of the Review Board’s advice was communicated to Fr. Stepek and his attorney, those who brought the allegations against Fr. Stepek and their attorneys, and the St. Albert the Great parish leadership and parishioners.
Subsequently, following publicity about the matter in early November, the Cardinal instructed his counsel to write to the attorneys for the parties to request that they not do anything to undermine the process as it goes forward. He further instructed his counsel to communicate that the Archdiocese’s good offices are available to help resolve any issues that may arise to maintain the integrity of the process.
We cannot prevent anyone from seeking redress from the courts, and acknowledge that they have the right to do so. From time to time, persons bringing allegations against a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago have chosen to bring their cases to the civil courts as well. The Archdiocese respects those decisions. However, we regret that the Cardinal’s advice and offer of assistance have not been taken. We repeat his invitation to the parties involved to support the existing process and seek alternatives to litigation in the civil courts.
We in leadership in the Archdiocese are firmly committed to policies, processes and programs that protect children and young people. This commitment extends to the rights and privacy of those bringing an allegation of sexual abuse as well as the rights and privacy of the priests, religious or employees that have been accused.
“All people of goodwill who may have to relate to the process are asked to do so with understanding and sensitivity for its goals. The Archdiocese will take all appropriate steps to protect the good name and reputation of all persons involved in this process.” SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS: POLICIES FOR EDUCATION, PREVENTION, ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS AND PROCEDURES FOR DETERMINATION OF FITNESS FOR MINISTRY §1104.2.
Jimmy M. Lago, Chancellor
Archdiocese of Chicago
December 11, 2006