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Victims, families deal with release of church sex abuse documents

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Shocking revelations Tuesday put another blemish on the Chicago Archdiocese.

Documents show high ranking officials were slow to respond to complaints that some priests were sexually abusing children.

Six thousand pages of documents were posted online Tuesday, all of which raise new questions for top Church officials, including Cardinal George.

The documents indicated that offenders were transferred to other parishes, but without any warning to their new parishioners.

Thirty priests were named in the documents and more than 90 percent of the allegations occurred before 1988.

The documents show the allegations occurred under Cardinals John Cody, Joseph Bernardin and Francis George.

Kathy Laarveld was actually working in the parish rectory with associate pastor Vincent McCaffrey while the priest was sexually abusing her son, Keith.

The monstrous betrayals began when the boy was just seven years old, and on a day happily sacred to every Catholic family.

"He was first abused on his First Communion in our house by McCaffrey," Jim Laarveld, father of one abused by McCaffrey, said.

That would be Vincent McCaffrey, now in federal prison convicted on charges related to child pornography.

The Laarveld's son was just one of the many victims who testified at the trial and sentencing of McCaffrey. He admitted abusing at least 13 boys, though some victims believe McCaffrey violated more than 100.

The old documents made public for the first time today show that McCaffrey, as a deacon, molested a 14-year-old at Our Lady Help of Christians starting in 1977-78.

Once ordained a priest and assigned to Calumet City's St. Victor parish, he found more young victims, serving them alcohol until they passed out, fondling them and performing oral sex.

At Our Lady of Loretto in 1980, another priest complained repeatedly about McCaffrey's behavior to church officials. Yet when McCaffrey moved to Wheeling's St. Joseph the Worker in 1982, there was no warning to families like the Laarvelds.

"It's evident. But when you read it in black and white, it's a confirmation that it really is true. There really has been one cover up after another after another," Kathy Laarveld said.

Some victims said Cardinal George explained in a letter to the Wisconsin prison cell of predator priest Norbert Maday, "We have tried, as you know, a number of avenues to see if your sentence might be reduced or parole be given early," the Archbishop wrote.

Others wanted former Mayor Rich Daley to explain an apparent intervention in the case of Father Robert Mayer.

Documents show a Chicago police captain told church officials of reports that Mayer was serving alcohol to teen girls, some of whom were later victims of Mayer's aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Daley called Church officials, saying the police captain was "not held in high esteem."

Former Mayor Daley says through a longtime associate Wednesday that he did not contact the Catholic Archdiocese regarding a predator priest convicted who sexually abused teenage girls.

A 1987 memo about convicted sex abuser Robert Mayer was released yesterday.

It was written by an aide to then Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and claimed then State's Attorney Daley had made an unsolicited call to the Archdiocese.

The memo claimed Daley had a low opinion of a Chicago Police captain who had reported Mayer's misconduct.

But a longtime Daley associate tonight told FOX 32 News Daley, "found the notion that he would criticize someone who was trying to help children to be absurd."

Victim Ken Kaczmarz said he was abused at age 10 at the South Side's St. Rita parish by a priest from the Augustinian order.

Tuesday's release of documents did not include any from Catholic orders. Victims claim as many as 35 such clerics were sexual predators, Kaczmarz said the many abused him in 1980 began attacking children years earlier.

"If the Augustinaians would have done the right thing in 1968 and had this man arrested, I wouldn't be standing here today," Kaczmarz said.

The Archdiocese gave a statement Tuesday night saying, "95% of these cases occurred prior to 1988. Today no priest with even one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor serves in ministry..."

Continuing, the statement said, "the Church and its leaders have acknowledged repeatedly that they wished they had done more and done it sooner, but now are working hard to regain trust, to reach out to victims and their families, and to make certain that all children and youth are protected"

In addition to their scorching criticism of the Chicago Archdiocese and its leadership for the last 40 years, the victims' lawyers did offer one bit of unsolicited praise Tuesday.

They called the program for sexual abuse victims here a model for the church around the country, indeed around the world.

Revelations about this sort of scandalous misconduct are now coming from many countries in Europe and elsewhere.

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