February 08, 2006

Joliet priest is accused of decades-old sex abuse

Chicago Tribune

By Margaret Ramirez, Tribune religion reporter. Tribune staff reporter Tonya Maxwell contributed to this report
Published February 8, 2006

Amid renewed criticism over the way he has dealt with abusive priests, Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch placed the rector of the diocese cathedral on administrative leave Tuesday pending an investigation of allegations that he repeatedly abused a boy from 1978 to 1982 while serving at a Mokena parish.

Rev. James Burnett, who has been at the Cathedral of St. Raymond since 2002, denies the allegations, the Catholic Diocese of Joliet said in a statement.

At a Chicago news conference Tuesday, Dan Shanahan, 34, said the abuse began when he was 8. He didn't tell anyone for years, he said, but decided three months ago to come forward because he was worried that Burnett would hurt another child.

"The reason I'm here is to make sure no more children get abused," said Shanahan, who now lives in Phoenix. "I know Father Burnett is still in a parish, and that gives me great pain."

Posted by kshaw at February 8, 2006 08:44 AM