Law firm's list of clergy abuse perpetrators includes 6 former McHenry County priests

6 former McHenry County priests included

Law firm Anderson and Associates released a report Wednesday including names of 395 Catholic clergy members in Illinois accused of sexual misconduct – six of whom formerly worked in McHenry County.

“The data reveal the horrifying scale of priests sexually assaulting minors to the present day,” the attorneys wrote in their report, accusing the church of an “institutional cover-up of enormous magnitude.”

The Diocese of Rockford had previously disclosed the names of four men: Harlan B. Clapsaddle, Mark A. Campobello, John C. Holdren and William I. Joffe. Names of two men – Al F. Harte and James Gaynor – who had worked in the Rockford diocese at some point were publicly disclosed for the first time Wednesday.

“Mr. Anderson’s list released today includes names already disclosed by the Rockford Diocese along with other names previously disclosed publicly but which are not on the Diocese’s list of those substantially accused because the accusations either have not been substantiated or are completely without merit,” the diocese said in a statement Wednesday.

Only Joffe is explicitly accused of having sexually abused children at the same time he was working in McHenry County. Others, however, were working in McHenry County about the time accusations surfaced, or were relocated to the area after the fact, according to the report.

While Campobello was the only of the six men to spend time in prison in connection with the allegations, the Diocese of Rockford did find the accusations against Clapsaddle, Holdren and Joffe to be credible. In some cases, such as Clapsaddle’s, priests were “sent to treatment” before being assigned to a new church.

Several of the priests’ ministry work history also includes yearlong gaps of sick, health or unspecified leave, the report indicated.

“Sexual misconduct by clergy, Church personnel, Church leaders and volunteers is contrary to Christian morals, doctrine and Canon Law,” the Diocese’s of Rockford said in the statement. “It is never acceptable and Bishop David J. Malloy has declared emphatically, that “one case of abuse is one too many.”

Harlan B. Clapsaddle

In January 1997, the Diocese of Rockford removed Harlan B. Clapsaddle from St. Anne’s in Dixon, after he was accused of child sexual abuse, according to the report.

Clapsaddle worked at St. Mary in McHenry in 1978. It was alleged that in the late 1970s, he sexually abused three brothers while he worked as a deacon at St. James in Rockford. The Rockford diocese found the allegations credible and sent Clapsaddle to treatment before he was reassigned to minister to the elderly at Provena Cor Mariae Center in Rockford, according to the report.

Clapsaddle resigned from Provena Cor Mariae Center in May 2002 after the allegations were made public, and he subsequently was transferred by the diocese to an “undisclosed location to stay with friends,” according to the report.

Clapsaddle’s status as a priest, as well as his whereabouts and whether he has access to children, is unknown.

Mark A. Campobello

In 2002, Campobello was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl. He was accused of sexually abusing a teenage girl when he worked as an associate pastor at St. Peter in Geneva in 1999, according to the report.

At that time, Campobello was assistant principal at Aurora Central Catholic High School, but occasionally worked at St. Peter in Geneva, according to the report.

He worked at St. Patrick Church in McHenry in 2000 and St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Crystal Lake in 2001.

In December 2002, Campobello was removed from his duties as parochial administrator at St. James in Belvidere.

In 2003, new child sexual abuse charges were brought against Campobello, accusing him of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl, from 1999 to 2000, while he worked at Aurora Central Catholic High School.

He pleaded guilty in 2004 to sexually abusing both girls and was sentenced to eight years in prison and subsequently stripped of his religious titles.

In 2007, the Diocese of Rockford settled two child sexual abuse lawsuits that included Campobello as a defendant, according to the law firm’s report.

Campobello was released from prison on parole in 2008, but later returned on a parole violation. He was released from prison a second time in 2010, and his whereabouts are unknown.

John C. Holdren

In September 2015, Holdren was named in a child sexual abuse lawsuit. The former priest was accused of sexually abusing a young boy from 1972 to 1973, while he worked at St. Rita of Cascia in Aurora, according to the report.

Holdren worked at St. Thomas Church in Crystal Lake from 1974 to 1980.

James Gaynor

In 2000, an allegation of child sexual abuse was made against Gaynor, who worked at St. Mary in McHenry from 1980 to 1983, according to the report.

It was alleged that Gaynor sexually abused a young boy between 1963 and 1965, while he worked at St. Rita of Cascia in Aurora, according to the report. The diocese has since told the victim that Gaynor died of AIDS in 1991, according to the report.

Al F. Harte

From 1978 to 1980, Al F. Harte allegedly sexually abused a student at Holy Family Catholic School in Rockford while he was pastor at Holy Family Parish, according to the report. He later went on to work at St. Mary Church in Woodstock from 1990 to 1997. Harte was named in a child sexual abuse lawsuit in 2014 and died in 2002.

William I. Joffe

Joffe was placed on leave in December 1987, after allegations surfaced claiming he mismanaged parish funds at St. Joseph’s in Harvard. In 1991, Joffe pleaded guilty to embezzling $265,000 and was sentenced to one year in prison and five years’ probation. In 1992, the Rockford diocese reassigned Joffe to St. Patrick’s in Amboy, before he was abruptly removed from ministry after the first allegation of child sexual abuse was made against him in 1993, according to the report.

Joffe was accused of sexually abusing at least seven children and has been named in at least one civil lawsuit, the report stated. He’s alleged to have sexually abused children while he worked at parishes in Dixon, Morrison and Woodstock. Joffe worked as a director and co-director of religious education at Newman Central Catholic High School in Sterling and Marian Central High School in Woodstock.

Despite the allegations, Joffe went on to work at at least two more churches – one in Florida and another in Illinois – before he died in 2008, the report shows.

The report

Attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, of Minnesota-based law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates, vowed in January to release the names of more than 300 Catholic clergy members accused of child sexual abuse. The law firm, which has an office in Bannockburn, made the announcement shortly after the Illinois Attorney General Office’s released a preliminary report of its investigation into clergy abuse.

In her report, former attorney general Lisa Madigan, claimed to know of more than 500 unidentified clergy members accused of sexually abusing minors. Unlike Anderson and Pearlman’s report, Madigan’s didn’t include the accused clergy members’ names or confirm which Illinois dioceses they belonged to.

“We have chosen to reveal this information because the Catholic bishops and the religious orders who are in charge and have this information and hold it secret have chosen to conceal it,” Anderson said at a news conference Wednesday.

The information included in the attorneys’ report comes from “publicly available sources, claims made by survivors to the dioceses and religious orders responsible for the offenders, and legal settlements made as a result of claims for child sexual abuse,” according to the report.

Although lawsuits have been filed involving many of the alleged offenders, most of the allegations have been settled or never came to fruition in civil or criminal court, the attorneys wrote. In some situations, the statute of limitations has expired.

While clergy members are considered mandated reporters under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, they cannot be compelled to disclose information they received during a confession.

Statements throughout the attorneys’ report on Wednesday echoed those laid out in a lawsuit that Anderson and Pearlman filed against each of the Illinois dioceses in October. The lawsuit claimed alleging Catholic bishops protected clergy members accused of sexually abusing children. By not effectively investigating claims and infrequently disclosing the names and histories of accused clergy members, the Catholic church has granted priests “unfettered access to children,” the attorneys wrote in their report.

One man, Lawrence W. Mullins, was the recipient of so many accusations he earned the nickname “Father Gacy” after serial killer, John Wayne Gacy, according to the report. At least 12 survivors have accused Mullins of child sexual abuse. Five of those accusers have said the abuse happened from 1977 to 1987 at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet. Mullins was removed from ministry in 1993 and later named by the Diocese of Joliet as a credibly accused person.

Another man, Lawrence Gibbs was named in more than five lawsuits, and has been accused of abusing more than 100 boys, according to the attorneys’ report. The Diocese of Joliet substantiated the allegations and publicly disclosed his name. Gibbs was removed from ministry in 1992.

Cynthia Yesko, one of the alleged victims suing the Illinois dioceses, said Wednesday that the attorney’s list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start.

“People now know to ask their children ‘have you been hurt by any of these individuals who are still in active ministry, who are still alive, or who are retired or already deceased?’” Yesko said.

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