February 03, 2006

Bishop defiant in sex cases

Chicago Tribune

By David Heinzmann and Crystal Yednak, Tribune staff reporters. Tribune staff reporter Art Barnum contributed to this report
Published February 3, 2006

During a deposition in August, Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch said a priest skinny-dipping and playing poker in the nude with young boys was "inappropriate," but because Imesch did not consider it to be sexual abuse, he moved the priest to another parish, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.

Imesch's reasoning for relocating Rev. Larry Gibbs from a Lombard parish where families accused him of sexually abusing boys to a Lockport parish where he was accused again was recorded in a deposition that the Tribune and the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault sought to have unsealed over the bishop's objections.

The deposition provides new details of Imesch's handling of priest sex abuse allegations during his 26 years as bishop.

At times angry and defiant during the lengthy deposition, Imesch, 74, at several points defended accused clerics, saying they were good priests who exercised poor judgment and were victims of smear campaigns and reckless media coverage.

Posted by kshaw at February 3, 2006 08:33 AM