AURORA (WBBM) — A priest from the Aurora-based Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, who had gained some celebrity as the chaplain for the Indianapolis 500, was quietly removed from the priesthood last December when allegations arose that he was a pedophile.
Newsradio 780′s Mike Krauser reports, the priest and his order are now being sued by an alleged victim.
A man now in his forties says the memory of what, he claims, Father Philip DeRea did to him over eight years has led to depression, a failed marriage and a lost job.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Mike Krauser Reports
Barbara Dorris, of the Survivor’s Network Of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP), says DeRea used his celebrity to abuse kids.
“He is very high profile and he is doing something that would attract children and make him look even more attractive to a child,” said Dorris. “And that’s what a child molester tries to do. Predators are not the dirty old men hiding in the bushes. It’s someone the parents know and trust.”
The victim says he repressed the memories of the abuse. When the alleged victim remembered what had happened he confronted Father DeRea in an e-mail.
The priest, according to the alleged victim, responded: “I have waited all these years with a heavy heart and great regret, to hear from you. I did you and your family a great injustice and am sorry for my weakness and sinfulness. I was horribly weak and out of control.”
The man, who now lives in Maryland, claims the priest sent thousands of dollars in hush money and eventually offered $35,000 in return for a promise not to sue.
On Friday, Sacred Heart released a statement saying it was “saddened” by the lawsuit.
The man is seeking $75,000 in damages from DeRea as well as Sacred Heart.