A pastor in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood has been asked to step aside from his ministry pending an investigation into allegations he sexually assaulted a minor 36 years ago.
According to a letter sent from the Archdiocese of Chicago to Christ the King Parish, Father Lawrence Sullivan has been asked to step aside pending the outcome of the investigation into the incident, which stems from when the pastor was 18 years old.
“Father Sullivan has agreed to cooperate fully with my request and will live away from the parish,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said in a statement. “In the days and weeks ahead, members of the Archdiocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth will be available to answer any questions you may have and provide you with support during this challenging time.”
According to the letter, the allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, in according to archdiocese policy. The person making the allegation has been offered services from the victim assistance ministry of the Chicago archdiocese.
In a letter posted to the parish’s website, Sullivan addresses the allegations, which he says stem from an encounter he had with an employee at a fast food restaurant in 1984.
“I made unwelcome verbal comments to a female employee that upset her to the extent that her parents and the police were contacted,” he said in the letter. “There was no physical interaction between me and the young woman. I was in the restaurant and spoke to the police, and I left the restaurant without any further police action.”
Lawrence says that he is “ashamed and deeply sorry” about his actions that night. The pastor says that the allegations were presented in a video on social media, and that he reported a video to the archdiocese.
“I pray that my accuser accepts my sincere apology and that it provides her with healing,” he said.