Former Priest Living In Aurora Sued Over Alleged Abuse

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.

  • Gregg

    No cash payout for you. Prison is certainly appropriate, but a jackpot payout is wrong.

  • Ullietta

    75 thousand dollars is too much. Priests are being sued left and right and there is no stopping on it. In order to stop this madness priests and nuns should marry ahd have children just like the Bible say to replenish the earth. Abraham was married so it was Peter. He had a mother in law that was sick. So, someone should consider giving our dear priests and nuns the happiness of being a real mother and father.
    God is the eternal giver of life. But being sued all the time and the stress and the worry this people have to go through is horrible to bear.
    We all are praying for their souls that they will be forgiven by God and enter the kingdom of God when they die.

    • joe

    • DuWayne Kooter

      Are you kidding me? This priest doesn’t need to be married, he sexually abused a child! A male child. Why in the world would you encourage him to marry and have children? That is just sick. And “oh the stress and worry priests and nuns have to go thru is horrible???” From what? Worrying about getting caught is what they are worried about.
      I was raised Catholic but I left the Church at 12 years old. All that ” you’re going to hell” business was just way too made-up by humans, not God.
      I mean really, grow up and realize that the Catholic Church is just a hideout for pedophiles. That’s it period. This jerk priest used his “trust” to deceive people. That is the worst. The best thing for him is to get sent to Stateville prison, where the inmates will show him what THEY think of pedophiles.
      I have absolutely no pity or respect for you Mr.Priestman. I also do not care what good you did in your life. You are a monster of the worst kind.

  • Parent

    “Predators are not the dirty old men hiding in the bushes. It’s someone the parents know and trust.” Like some of the public school teachers? It will be interesting to see if the school districts face the same sort of lawsuits. It’s no less a crime.

  • Parent

    I’m always bother by the “repressed memories” story. Not sure if these allegations are true or not. Father Phil came to my home many times when I was 10 years old living in Ohio. That was 40 years ago. He never attempted anything like this toward me or my two brothers. If it is true, I am saddened.

  • Laurie

    While there are certainly victims of pedophilia who absolutely deserve every bit of support we can offer, we must also recognize that accusing a priest of pedophilia has become a great way to shake down the church. And, with such a high profile target as Father DeRea, all the better to find a deep pocket to extort. The Catholic Church, due to its years of gross inaction and irresponsibility , has inadvertantly created the worst of all scenarios. Early on, because the Catholic Church was in full cover up mode, many priests guilty of pedophilia were not made to account for their crimes and have been allowed to live quietly in religious communities away from the public eye. Now, because of this long-standing practice of the Church, priests are easy targets for someone wishing to cash in. So, innocent priests can easily be wrongly accused and the Church is nowhere to be found in their defense as it tries to bend over backwards to present a different face in light of the years of cover up. I am highly suspicious of these “repressed memories” of alleged abuse that supposedly spanned a full 8 years. And, were it true, there should be other victims that come forward. It will be very interesting to see if anyone else comes forward. And, as for Father DeRea, the damage is done. Regardless of the truth, his name will forever be associated with this disgusting crime. Should there be a trial and Father DeRea be found not guilty I doubt seriously that the media will report that with the fervor it now reports the accusation. I pray that truth and justice are served here. ANd, I hope that the media covers innocence as fervently as it reports alledged guilt.

    • Toby

      I could not agree more with this post. While there are those that come forward that have had a horrible injustice done to them, there are also those that come forward trying to get a quick buck. I wish that those false accusers would be sued for defamation and, hopefully, the news would cover that story as vigorously as they do these cases. Then, maybe, false accusation would subside.

  • Mike


    I think what Ullietta was trying to say is that the practice of taking a vow of celibacy and not being allowed to marry unfortunately may only serve to promote this type of sexual behavior in certain individuals. The Catholic church really needs to address this. Would it not be better to seek council on things like marriage, relationships, and children from someone who has actually experienced it? If these allegations are true, I pray that both men may find peace.

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