Church Says Priest's Actions Don't Constitute Abuse

Woman alleges Fr. George Klein kissed, fondled her and put his hand up her skirt

After nearly 40 years, a Chicago-area woman last summer told the Chicago Archdiocese that Rev. George Klein, once the principal at St. Benedict High School, had sexually abused her.

The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said it started after she was found drunk at a basketball game in the mid 1970s. She was called to the principal’s office and she thought she would be expelled from school. But what she says happened was far worse.

"He did touch me, he kissed me, he fondled me, he opened up my blouse, went up my skirt. He molested me right there in the school," she recalled.

She said it happened repeatedly for more than a year.

"Obviously, I was drinking, I was a bit of a troubled teen, no one would believe a troubled teen," she said of her reticence to come forward at the time.

Klein, who is now 75 and retired, was placed on restrictions from saying Mass until an investigation was complete. But the woman said recently received a letter from Leah McCluskey, the Director of the Office for Child Abuse Investigations.

In the letter, McCluskey states: "The Board made the determination that Fr. Klein’s conduct did not constitute sexual abuse of a minor but was otherwise inappropriate."

It turns out Fr. Klein phoned Cardinal Francis George in mid-December, anxious to hear if he had been cleared. After that conversation, he told his pastor he was allowed to once again say mass and did so at St. Philip the Apostle in Northfield on Jan. 1, telling parishioners he was the victim of unfair allegations.

The following week, however, the pastor issued a letter in the church bulletins, stating that "Father Klein misunderstood what the Cardinal had said.

Rev. Robert J. Dempsey added that "restrictions" will be imposed, however "the final decision rests with the Cardinal acting in consultation with the Review Board.”

At least for now, Klein is no longer allowed to say Mass.

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