A bishop who admitted he never reported suspicions of child sexual abuse by priests is currently living in a historic mansion owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
In a 2007 deposition, Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Goedert told lawyers he never alerted law enforcement to allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy before providing the lawyers with the names of 25 clergy members who he knew had been accused of such behavior.
Today, 90-year-old Goedert is living at the Archbishop’s Residence, an historic three-story building made of “smooth red brick” with 19 chimneys, three of which are in use, according to the archdiocese’s website, which calls it “perhaps the largest and best-preserved building of its type in the Chicago area.”
Paula Waters, spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said Goedert, who is retired, remains in “good standing because he never had a charge against him.”
“He retired as a priest in good standing; he has been living at the house in good standing,” Waters said. “He’s not ministering to anyone now, and he followed procedures at the time for what they were supposed to do regarding priests facing child sex abuse allegations.”
Waters said Goedert “lives in a place that is not palatial.”
Reached by phone Friday morning, Goedert told CNN that it was “difficult” to talk about the reports of his alleged mishandling of accused priests, and he did not want to discuss events that had happened 30 years ago. Goedert referred CNN to the Chicago archdiocese for all other comment.
While Goedert himself has not been accused of wrongdoing, an attorney who deposed him and who has represented alleged victims of priest abuse told CNN that the bishop’s actions – not reporting the allegations of abuse – point to a larger issue of how the Catholic Church handles child sexual abuse allegations.
The issue has been highlighted by the recent release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of sexual abuse by priests.
“He was just the one in Chicago that was following the playbook,” said the lawyer, Marc Pearlman, who has represented hundreds of sex abuse victims in the Chicago area.
The Chicago Sun-Times first reported that Goedert was living at the residence.
Goedert knew of 25 priests with accusations against them
The deposition, which is available online through BishopAccountability.org, was part of settlement negotiations between the archdiocese and lawyers representing former child sex abuse victims, according to Pearlman, who was involved in the case.
Several high-ranking church officials were also deposed in negotiations ahead of the settlement, which was announced in August 2008, according to BishopAccountability.org, an organization that aggregates publicly available documents regarding child abuse allegations within the Catholic Church.
In the deposition, an attorney asks Goedert, “Bishop, how many times, if any, have you personally reported suspicions of sexual abuse of minors by clergy to law enforcement authorities?”
“How many times have I personally reported to the civil authorities?” he asks.
“None,” Goedert says, later adding he never “delegated” anyone else to report alleged abuse, either.
“Our usual practice was when an allegation came in, I would consult with our legal advisors,” Goedert said. “And if there was any need for the matter to be reported, they would see to it that it was reported.”
Later in the deposition, Goedert is shown a list of dozens of clergy who were removed from ministry or resigned because allegations of sexual misconduct with children had been “substantiated,” the document said.
Pearlman asks Goedert to go through the list and put an “X” next to each name of a priest who he knew had faced allegations while he was vicar for priests, whether he had been personally made aware of them or discovered it while reviewing records.
In all, Goedert put an “X” by 25 different names, according to the deposition.
’This is not about Bishop Goedert’
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently announced plans to meet with the Chicago Archdiocese after at least seven priests with connections to her state were identified in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.
Pearlman, one of the attorneys who deposed Goedert, told CNN his first impression of Goedert was that he was a “nice old man.”
“I say that not in defense of him, but that’s what makes this (scandal) so disturbing and alarming,” Pearlman told CNN on Friday.
“This is not about Bishop Goedert. There are hundreds, if not thousands, just like him in every archdiocese,” Pearlman continued. “He was just the one in Chicago that was following the playbook. It doesn’t matter if it’s Chicago, Joliet, Los Angeles, Boston. Everyone had a Father Goedert who did the same thing.”
Rather than being disciplined, Pearlman said, these priests were moved around and the allegations against them not reported to police, “at the expense of I can’t imagine how many children,” who would have been spared otherwise.
“As heinous as the sexual abuse crimes were,” he said, “the cover-up is worse.”