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New Sex Abuse Allegations Filed Against Former Priest

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UPDATED 06/28/12 6:30 a.m.

JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – New allegations of sexual abuse are being directed at a former Joliet priest already accused of molesting numerous young boys back in the 1970s.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, a lawsuit has been filed by Terence Breen of St. Charles, who claims that he was molested by the Rev. Lawrence Gibbs when he was a boy.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

In his lawsuit in Will County Circuit Court against Gibbs and the Diocese of Joliet, Breen claims Gibbs gave several young boys alcohol and pornography during a retreat at a Wisconsin cabin in 1977. The priest also had the boys play games, swim and perform other activities naked, the lawsuit alleges.

In 1978, Breen alleges, Gibbs took him into a cabin bedroom to molest him.

Gibbs has already been named as a defendant in three civil lawsuits alleging he sexually abused two boys from Lombard and one from Lockport while serving as a parish priest in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were settled in the late 1990s for undisclosed sums. No criminal charges were filed.

Breen said he went to catechism school at St. James the Apostle Catholic Church in Glen Ellyn, and Gibbs supervised the children during religious retreats in 1977 and 1978 when Breen was 15 and 16. He said boys were given alcohol and pornography both years, but it was 1978 when he encountered Gibbs in the hallway after he left the restroom in the middle of the night.

He said Gibbs took him into his bedroom, put on pornography and molested him. Both years, Breen said, he swore the boy to strict secrecy.

Breen’s attorney, Mark R. McKenna of the Chicago-based law firm Hurley, McKenna & Mertz, said Breen was far from Gibbs’ only victim.

“Father Gibbs was a predator who attacked many, many children,” McKenna said.

McKenna said his client brought his lawsuit now — about 35 years after the alleged abuse — because it takes many years for victims of sexual abuse to come to terms with what happened.

“Your instinct is to lock it away,” McKenna said.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Joliet didn’t return a call seeking comment Wednesday afternoon.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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