Chicago Archdiocese Pays $1.75M to Settle Sex Abuse Case

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A sex abuse case against the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order, has been settled for $1.75 million, attorneys for the victim announced Friday.

The case was brought by a woman who claimed she was repeatedly abused as a child in the 1980s by Robert Boley, a Carmelite priest who taught at St. Cyril Catholic School in Woodlawn. The school, at 6423 S. Woodlawn Ave. has since closed.

“During one school year, he abused her multiple times in the classroom, having her stay inside for recess and sexually assaulting her while also telling her she was a bad child, that God was angry with her and making her read the Bible during the abuse,” according to a statement released Friday by Romanucci & Blandin, the law firm that represented the woman.

“Prior to his role at St. Cyril’s Catholic School, Father Boley worked with children in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where he has been accused of molesting at least two children. He was transferred from Los Angeles to Chicago by the Church without a documented explanation,” according to the statement.

The case was settled in June through a mediated process before a lawsuit was filed.

“The money is nice but you want to be a healed person. At this point in my life I should be able to have a relationship with a man and not be immediately distrustful. And that’s what this did to me, it made me not trust men,” the woman, who didn’t want to be identified, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“He deserves to be in jail,” she said. The woman no longer lives in the Midwest, her attorneys said.

Statutes of limitations, though they’ve since been extended in Illinois to allow abuse victims more time to come forward, prevented criminal charges against Boley, according to her attorneys.

Asked about the settlement, the allegations and whereabouts of Boley, an Archdiocese spokesman said in an email: “We don’t comment on settlements, lawsuits or pending litigation.”

The Order of Carmelites, Province of the Most Pure Heart of Mary, based in suburban Darien, lists Boley on its website as a “member against whom a credible or public allegation of childhood sexual abuse has been made” and states he was removed from ministry in 2006 and put on a “Safety Plan.”

In explaining what a “Safety Program” is, the Carmelite website states: “This rigorous relapse prevention program provides appropriate psychological treatment designed by professionals specifically for offenders and entails monitoring and supervision for the rest of the member’s life.”

Susan Overbey, an attorney representing the Carmelites, said the group doesn’t comment on settlements or litigation.

Overbey shared a statement from the Carmelites that read, in part: “We pray for the healing of all survivors of clergy sex abuse and encourage those who were abused to come forward.”

Overbey declined to comment on Boley’s whereabouts or status as a priest.

Attorneys for the woman alleged church leaders knew or should have known Boley was a sexual predator and was unfit to supervise children prior to being transferred to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

“Our client endured unspeakable abuse as a child at the hands of someone she was taught to obey, trust and respect. The abuse had a devastating impact on our client, and detrimentally changed the trajectory of her life. After engaging in lengthy discussions, we appreciate that the Carmelites and Archdiocese of Chicago recognized the physical, psychological and spiritual harm caused and were willing to be a part of the healing process,” attorneys representing the victim stated.

According to a report published in 2019 by Minnesota-based attorney Jeff Anderson that named priests accused of sex abuse, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled a lawsuit in 2007 alleging abuse by Boley.

In 2018, an investigation by then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan found 690 priests accused of abuse in Illinois, with Catholic officials identifying only 185 of them with credible allegations against them.

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