Archdiocese of Chicago settles sex abuse claim against Rev. George Clements: lawyer

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The Archdiocese of Chicago has reached an $800,000 settlement over allegations of sexual abuse by the late Reverend George Clements, famed Holy Angels pastor, and four other Chicago-area priests, according to attorneys representing the alleged victims of abuse.

More details on the settlement were expected at a press conference later Tuesday, according to the law offices of Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney.

The settlement also references Brother Edward C. Courtney, who served at all three Chicago-area Irish Christian Brothers high schools—Brother Rice on the Far South Side, St. Laurence in Burbank, and Leo on the South Side—in the 1960s and 1970s as well as college-run schools in Michigan and Washington. The Chicago Sun-Times reported last year that Courtney had been accused of being a “serial sexual predator” responsible for abusing more than 50 children, according to archives, interviews and news accounts. .

Courtney was to “have no contact with Rice, Leo or Laurence in any way,” a law enforcement chief wrote in the 1970s after a series of abuse accusations.

A spokesperson for the archdiocese declined to comment on Tuesday, saying the church does not comment on disputes. These legal settlements sometimes include no admission of wrongdoing.

Clements died in November 2019. He was a longtime civil rights advocate on the city’s South Side. He walked with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago, Alabama and Mississippi.

He was also known as the first Catholic priest to adopt a child and, later, three others.

In August 2019, Clements was charged with sexually abusing a minor in 1974 while he was pastor of Holy Angels in Bronzeville. At the time, Cardinal Blase Cupich asked Clements “to step down from the ministry” pending the outcome of an investigation.

At the time, Clements told the Sun-Times the allegation was “totally unfounded.”

The status of that internal investigation is unclear, but Clements is not on the archdiocesan list of credibly accused priests. This list was last updated in June 2021.

Legal settlements have also been reached regarding allegations against several other Chicago-area priests, all of whom are either dead or no longer in active ministry.

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