May 17, 2006

`Last few years have not been the best,' Imesch says

Chicago Tribune

By Hal Dardick, Crystal Yednak and David Heinzmann, Tribune staff reporters
Published May 17, 2006

As he formally announced his retirement, Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch said Tuesday that the Catholic Church's priest sex-abuse scandal had nothing to do with the decision.

That may be true--this summer he will be 75, the age at which the Vatican requires all bishops to submit their resignation. But the scandal has plagued the last few years of Imesch's 27-year tenure.

While the Joliet diocese has been less a focus of attention than the much larger Chicago archdiocese, accusations have persisted that Imesch tried to protect and cover for priests since the scandal broke nationally in 2001 and 2002. Victims accused Imesch of transferring some priests to new parishes when accusations were leveled, blocking police investigations and intimidating victims and their families with church lawyers.

Imesch and his attorneys have fought multiple court battles with news organizations in recent years as he tried to keep sex-abuse files under wraps. He lost most of the battles, and found himself defending his actions again this February when hundreds of pages of files--including a deposition he gave in a sex-abuse lawsuit last year--were made public.

Posted by kshaw at May 17, 2006 06:56 AM