By Ron DeBrock
More than 20 abusive clerics who once served at area Catholic churches and schools were named in a state report released Tuesday.
The six dioceses in Illinois failed to disclose hundreds of abusive clerics before the state opened what would become a yearslong investigation into sex abuse within the church, Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Tuesday.
A 2017 law eliminated Illinois’ prior statute of limitations for child sex abuse, under which a 20-year clock began ticking on a victim’s 18th birthday. But that law was only prospective; a 2009 Illinois Supreme Court decision affirmed that attempts to alter the statute of limitations retroactively violated the due process rights of the accused.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield Diocese said he supports the investigation and feels it is time to bring all the crimes out into the public.
“The attorney general’s inquiry into the history of clergy sexual abuse of minors in this diocese has served as a reminder that some clergy in the Church committed shameful and disgraceful sins against innocent victim survivors and did damage that simply cannot be undone,” Paprocki said. “As bishop of this diocese, I cannot undo the damages of the past, but I have been and continue to be fully committed to ensuring we do all we can to prevent abuse from happening again.”
Raoul’s report, however, suggests Paprocki could have done more. It states that the diocese didn’t list substantiated child sex abusers placed online until November 2018 and it was not until September 2022 that Paprocki authorized the diocese’s homepage to include a link to a “List of clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.”
The 700-page report was issued following a four-and-a-half-year investigation. It includes the names of 451 Catholic priests and religious brothers statewide who abused nearly 2,000 victims since 1950. It also named 32 Catholic clerics who had served in the 28-county Springfield Diocese that includes Madison, Macoupin, Jersey, Greene and Calhoun counties.
Named in Raoul’s report, along with their assignments and number of abuse survivors, were:
• Alvin Campbell (died 2002) with 34 survivors. Assignments included 1982, Mother of Perpetual Help in Maryville.
• Joseph Cernich with 4 survivors. The abuse was listed as occurring in 1983 at Saint Ambrose in Godfrey.
• Victor Lucien Chateauvert (died 1999) with at least 2 survivors. Assignments included 1978-1981 at Saint Joseph in Granite City.
• Garrett Neal Dee with 4 survivors. Assignments included 1968-1971 at Immaculate Conception in Alton, 1968: Dominican Sisters at Bethalto, 1973-1976 at Saint Boniface, Edwardsville, and 1980-1981 at Saint Elizabeth in Marine.
• Robert Degrand with 1 survivor. Assignments included 1991-1996 at Saint Elizabeth in Granite City.
• Robert Dodd (died 2018) with 2 survivors. Assignments included 1964-1968 at Saint Paul in Highland and 1968 at SIUE Newman Catholic Community in Edwardsville.
• Robert Eagear (died 1984) with 1 survivor. Assignments included 1928-1934 at Saint Bernard in Wood River and 1958-1970 at Saint Peter and Paul in Collinsville.
• George Faller (died 1975) with 3 survivors. Assignments included 1918-1919: Saint Paul in Highland, 1919 at Saint Simon and Jude in Gillespie, 1919-1922 at Saint Mary in Alton, 1922-1924 at Saint Anseim in Kampsville, 1954-1961 at Saint Boniface in Edwardsville and 1961-1969 at Saint Joseph in Benld.
• Ray Frazen (died 1987) with 2 survivors. Assignments included 1940-1942 at Saint Patrick in Grafton.
• Joseph Havey (died 2017) with 14 survivors. Assignments included 1970 and again in 1974 at Saint Margaret Mary in Granite City, and 1975-1976 at Holy Ghost in Jerseyville.
• George Kromenaker (died 2010) with 1 survivor. Assignments included 1952-1954 at Saint Mary in Alton.
• Thomas Gregory Meyer (died 2012) with at least 1 survivor. Assignments included 1990-1998 at Saint Peter and Paul in Alton.
• Orville Lawrence Munie (died 1993) with at least 1 survivor. Assignments included 1981-1983 at Saint Isidore in Bethany.
• Joseph Cullen O’Brien (died 1978) with 14 survivors. Assignments included 1942-1945 at Saint Peter and Paul in Collinsville, 1945 at Catholic Children’s Home in Alton, 1948-1950 at Saint Joseph in Granite City, 1968-1970 at Catholic Children’s Home in Alton and 1968-1970 at Saint Patrick in Alton.
• Frank O’Hara (died 2006) with 5 survivors. Assignments included 1959-1985 at Saint Kevin in Rosewood Heights.
• Daniel L. Ryan (died 2015) with 5 survivors. Assignments included 1984-1999 as Bishop of Springfield Diocese.
• Aloysius Schwellenbach (died 2000) with 4 survivors. Assignments included 1945 at Catholic Children’s Home in Alton, 1951-1952 at Saint Joseph in Granite City, 1964-1969 at Saint Margaret Mary in Granite City, and 1969-1970 at Saints Simon and Jude in Gillespie.
• Louis C. Shea (died 1996) with 2 survivors. Assignments included 1951 at Catholic Children’s Home in Alton and 1954 at Saint Anselm in Kampsville.
• Francis Tebangura with 2 survivors. Assignments included 1980-1988 at Saint Margaret Mary in Granite City, 1988-2001 at Saint Elizabeth in Granite City, 2001-2002 at Our Lady Czestochowa in Madison, 2002-2006 at Saint Mark in Venice, IL (sacramental priest) and 2002-2006 at Saint Mary in Madison (sacramental priest).
• Walter Weerts with 22 survivors. Assignments included 1955 at Catholic Children’s Home in Alton, 1957 at Camp Pere Marquette in Grafton, 1961-1963 at Saint Ambrose in Godfrey, 1963-1967 at Sacred Heart in Granite City, 1972 at Saint Paul in Highland, and 1979-1980 at Saint Boniface in Edwardsville.
• Frank Westhoff (died 2006) with 3 survivors. Assignments included 1959 at Catholic Children’s Home in Alton, 1961-1964 at Saint Patrick in Alton, 1980-1985 at Camp Pere Marquette in Grafton and 1984-1985 at Saint Margaret Mary in Granite City.
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