Suit alleges abuse by 2 priests in ’70s
Arizona man seeks $350,000 in civil case
April 28, 2006|By Manya A. Brachear, Tribune staff reporter
An Arizona man has accused two priests of sexually abusing him more than 30 years ago at St. Pius X Parish in Lombard, according to a $350,000 civil lawsuit filed Thursday in DuPage County Circuit Court.
Tim Greco, 43, of Gilbert, Ariz., alleges that Rev. Phillip Dedera sexually molested him more than 100 times, starting in 1974 when the plaintiff was an 11-year-old altar boy. He also recounted how Rev. Richard Bennett, now pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Community Church in Naperville, caught Dedera in the act, but instead of reporting it to church or civil authorities, allegedly fondled the boy after a mass.
Contacted by telephone Thursday, Bennett tearfully denied the allegation, adding that Greco’s complaint had been investigated by the Joliet Diocesan Review Committee and was deemed “not credible.”
Dedera could not be reached for comment Thursday.
In a statement, diocese spokesman Tom Kerber said the review committee would reconvene soon to discuss the present situation. There have been no other allegations made against Bennett, Kerber said. For the time being, he said, Bennett will remain in ministry with restrictions.
Dedera was suspended from ministry in 2002 after church officials found an allegation against him to be substantiated. In a deposition taken in August 2005, Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch confirmed that Dedera had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
Greco said at least one incident of abuse happened on a trip to Wisconsin, where the statute of limitations applies only to residents and therefore would not shield the Illinois priest from criminal prosecution.
While the recollection of abuse surfaced during alcohol abuse treatment years ago, Greco said it was the sight of his 11-year-old son that pushed him to contact Imesch about Dedera in 2004.
“I decided to come forward as a father,” Greco said. “It just destroys me to know there are men out there who can do this to children.”
It was not until a later conversation with his attorneys, Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, that he realized what Bennett allegedly did was also wrong.
The diocese was informed of the allegations against Bennett in a letter to Imesch and diocese attorney James Byrne in August 2004.
Kerber said neither Greco nor his attorney responded to an invitation to present the allegation to the review committee or to provide additional information. Anderson said the diocese already had enough information by then to draw a conclusion.
Both Dedera and Bennett were ordained in 1972. Dedera also worked at churches including St. Andrew the Apostle in Romeoville, Visitation Parish in Elmhurst, St. Walter Parish in Roselle, St. Mary in Downers Grove, St. Scholastica in Woodridge, St. Mary in Paxton and St. Patrick in Momence. His last two assignments were in Naperville, at Edward Hospital and St. Patrick’s Residence.
Bennett has worked at churches including St. Dennis in Lockport, St. Raphael in Naperville and Sacred Heart Church in Joliet