Much has transpired regarding this case that I have not been able to kept up with. It seems to be finally coming to a close.Chicago Public Schools’ correspondence provided to The Associated Press shows that the nation’s third largest school district gave a former Roman Catholic priest access to its schools for months despite knowing he was forced to leave the priesthood for sexually abusing a boy of 6 when he was around 15.
Only after the victim and the AP asked why the district let former cleric Bruce Wellems enter schools as part of alternative-schooling programs he oversees, did the nation’s third-largest school district recently ban him.
Criticism that the district hasn’t done enough to protect 370,000 students at nearly 650 schools from sexual misconduct intensified after a June 8 article in the Chicago Tribune, which reported CPS didn’t adequately vet its own employees and cited scores of alleged cases of sexual abuse by staffers. Illinois lawmakers held hearings on the issue this week.
Wellems, 61, isn’t on the district’s staff. But he has worked with CPS as executive director of the nonprofit Peace and Education Coalition, which runs CPS-sanctioned alternative schools at CPS properties for at-risk kids, including the Peace & Education Coalition High School in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. The AP reported last year that Wellems has remained executive director even after leaving the priesthood over the abuse. CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in a statement to the AP Thursday that, in addition to the new ban on Wellems, the district was now doing a full review “to determine if an ongoing relationship” with the coalition “remains appropriate.”
UPDATE:: Back of the Yards priest who admitted to sexual misconduct as teenager gives up collarA popular Back of the Yards priest who admitted to sexual misconduct as a teenager has left his Roman Catholic religious order and asked the pope to remove him from the priesthood, according to a letter from the lawyer for the Claretian Missionaries provided as part of a legal settlement.
Bruce Wellems, a former priest at Holy Cross Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, who acknowledged that decades ago, when he was 15, he abused a 7-year-old boy, resigned from the Claretians in the past year, after the victim sued the order.
The victim, Eric Johnson, now 52, said Wellems abused him multiple times when Johnson was 7 years old.
"I could have chosen to remain anonymous, but I did not, which was not easy for my family nor myself. Yet I continue to push for justice," he said. "He is a danger to the kids and the community."
UPDATE:: Thanks to reader Basketball Jones, we have this bit of recent information, IL--Admitted predator priest will not be put back to work in Chicago, courtesy of SNAP.
Fr. Bruce Wellems admits having repeatedly sexually abused Eric Johnson when Wellems was 15 and Johnson was seven. The Chicago Archdiocese temporarily suspended Fr. Wellems but dragged their feet for months while pondering whether to let the priest work again in Chicago again.
When confronted about his abusive acts, Fr. Wellems attacked the messenger, saying reports of his abusive acts had “no factual basis.”
In a bizarre twist, when our group warned parents and parishioners about Fr. Wellems, he attacked us, saying we’re guilty of “poor judgment” and “victimizing the thousands of families in the parishes where I have worked.”
Now, Archbishop Blasé Cupich should hold a news conference, explain his irresponsible and secretive behavior with this admitted predator and announce this decision to keep Fr. Wellems out of ministry in Chicago.
UPDATE::A different side to the controversy as Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is none too happy.
Fr. Wellems’ backers try to spin this as a story of sin and redemption. That’s disingenuous at best and downright dangerous at worst. This is a story of crime, not sin, and of recklessness, not redemption.
In a bizarre twist, when our group warned California parents and parishioners about Fr. Wellems, he attacked us, saying we’re guilty of “poor judgment” and “victimizing the thousands of families in the parishes where I have worked.”
Catholic officials in at least two states have long kept Catholic families in the dark about Fr. Wellems’ past. If they truly feel he is not a risk to re-offend, why won’t the honor their pledges to be “transparent” and be open and public about Fr. Wellems’ admitted crimes? Why won’t they be honest with parents and let them make their own decisions about whether to trust Fr. Wellems around their kids.
Instead, church officials kept quiet about his past and put children at risk.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is not much better. Although they did remove Fr. Wellems, they posted no public announcement and duped parishioners about the scope and scale of Fr. Wellems’ crimes.
IL--Admitted predator priest is still on the job; Victims respond
__See also:: IL--End the silence
My first question would be "define" teenager? Second, has there been any hint of misconduct in the intervening years? And third, is he in the priesthood for the right reasons? Even then, "'How can you make a mistake that causes so much pain to one person, live with it and go on?' Schultz said through tears. 'He found a way to do it.'"
But there is an interesting aspect to this piece as a whole, "Minors often don't sexually offend again, as opposed to adult sex offenders, for whom recidivism rates are greater" If that holds true, is - as the article asks- zero tolerance open for interpretation?
Should a priest's sexual misconduct as a youth bar him from ministry? That's the question facing Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich.Should Chicago priest return to ministry after revelations of teen misconduct? - Chicago Tribune
For decades, the Rev. Bruce Wellems, a Roman Catholic priest with the Claretian Missionaries, has served as a father figure for young men in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood.
But when revelations of his sexual misconduct as a teenager resurfaced in 2014 shortly after his religious order transferred him to California, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez removed him from ministry immediately. He returned to his former neighborhood to resume work as a youth advocate and community organizer.
Now Cupich must decide whether the popular priest can wear a collar, celebrate Mass and officially return to active ministry. Wellems, 58, admits to the abuse, though his recollection of the details and how long it lasted differs from the victim's.
Ten years later, Johnson came across Wellems' name again in Chicago Parent magazine. He contacted Schultz, the former Sun-Times reporter who by then had become the magazine's editor and Wellems' friend.
She said she and others couldn't find any allegations of abuse by Wellems as an adult. Still, she confronted Wellems, who admitted to his inappropriate conduct as a teenager. But during that uneasy conversation, Schultz said she could tell that Wellems was ashamed by what he had done and had devoted his life to making up for it.
"How can you make a mistake that causes so much pain to one person, live with it and go on?" Schultz said through tears. "He found a way to do it."
The fact that no other complaints exist now doesn't matter, Johnson said. It can take years for a child who has been sexually abused to come forward, he said.