Dying Woman: Church Stalling on Abuse Suit

Woman with terminal cancer says she was abused in 1960s

A woman who says she was abused repeatedly by a priest she trusted decades ago is publicly accusing the church of stalling negotiations because she is on her deathbed.

"Jane Doe 1," as she's called in the lawsuit, is searching for peace before she dies from terminal cancer, closure from a painful period in her life, when she says she was abused by Fr. Anthony Joseph Vader.

Vader is among the list of priests the Archdiocese of Chicago knows abused children.

Jane Doe says that when she attended St. Lawrence Grammar School in the 1960s, Vader fondled her and sexually assaulted her over several years. Her cousin -- "Jane Doe 2" -- says she was also a victim. After almost 40 years, both women confided in Jane Doe's sister.

"It was really heartbreaking to hear two women describe what a man of God had done to them," said Jane Doe 1's sister.

But after alerting the Archdiocese in 2006, Jane Doe said she noticed that negotiation proceedings began to slow down. Her attorney, Phillip Aaron, said it's because the church knew that Jane Doe was going to die.

"I told him that her condition had deteriorated to the point we had to get this situation resolved, or if we don't this lady would die. His response was, 'We hope she does,'" Aaron recalled.

The attorney for the Archdiocese, Jay Franke, flatly denies that claim.

"We are not in the business of trying to chisel them out of something because they're about to die," said Franke. "That's personally offensive."

There have been settlement offers, but barely crossing six figures, the family calls them insulting.

Franke said that each abuse claim needs to be handled individually and said he's shocked that Aaron has chosen to negotiate in public.

But Aaron says the family is also shocked

"She's going through fighting for her life, and it's sad. It's really sad. She should not have to wait this long," Aaron said.

The Archdiocese said it will review the lawsuit, but will also attempt to mediate the claims in a "fair and compassionate manner."

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