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Romanucci & Blandin settles sexual abuse case involving Father John Burke, the Clerics of St. Viator and the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois

February 24, 2022

Romanucci & Blandin, LLC a national personal injury firm primarily based in Chicago announces a settlement with the Clerics of St. Viator and the Diocese of Joliet on behalf of an individual (John Doe) who was repeatedly sexually abused as a boy by Father John Burke in the 1970s. Father Burke was a Viatorian priest assigned to St. George Catholic Church in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Prior to retaining counsel, John Doe reported the abuse to the Clerics of St. Viator and spoke with spoke with a church leader, where he learned that Father Burke had a history of grooming and molesting young boys who fit John Doe’s profile. He would prey upon vulnerable boys from disadvantaged backgrounds whom he would meet at youth centers in the surrounding area. The boys were often poor, fatherless and looking for a male role model.

The victim in this case details exploitation by Father Burke on multiple occasions when the boy was between the ages 12 to 15, when Father Burke then deemed the boy “too old” and prostituted him to another pedophile. The abuse included, among other things: showing the boy pornography, various sexual acts and giving the boy alcohol and amyl nitrate in order to coerce him.

Burke maintained his employment in the church until he retired in 1983 at the age of 75, and died three years later.  Recent favorable case law permits Illinois childhood sexual abuse victims to pursue justice in the courts, where these victims are able to achieve some measure of justice for what happened to them.

The settlement was reached in November 2021. The plaintiff was represented by Romanucci & Blandin Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci, Partner Martin D. Gould, and Senior Attorney Nicolette Ward.

“Our firm calls on the Viatorians to publicly disclose their list of priests who have allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor along with their respective files redacting the names of victims just as the Archdiocese of Chicago and Diocese of Joliet have done. Despite private admissions that Father Burke was a serial predator who destroyed many lives, the Viatorians have publicly held out and continue to hold Father Burke on their website as a priest in good standing.  When some of the boys demonstrated tremendous courage coming forward decades ago, the Viatorians quickly and publicly called the allegations unfounded.  It’s time for the culture of cover up to end and for the Viatorians to do the right thing. All of Father Burke’s survivors deserve that validation,” stated Partner Martin D. Gould, Romanucci & Blandin.

To learn more about legal options when someone has suffered sexual abuse or interpersonal violence, please visit our website and click here.

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