Former OP priest sued for sexual abuse

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By FORD C. O'CONNELL, Medill News Service

A Berwyn man who once served in an Oak Park parish is the latest former Catholic priest to be accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.

A lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court Thursday alleges that the Rev. James Craig Hagan sexually abused a Chicago man, now 24, from 1994 to 1996 while he was an alter boy at St. Denis Church on the Southwest Side.

"This is a very alarming situation," said Jeffrey R. Anderson, the man's attorney. "[Hagan] is a serial predator. This is a man who can't control himself. The archdiocese has protected Hagan for years."

The suit, which seeks "over $50,000," also names Cardinal Francis George and the Archdiocese of Chicago as a defendant.

According to the suit, the archdiocese knew about Hagan's pedophilic behavior and sexual abuse of young boys before Hagan was assigned to St. Denis. The lawsuit also charges that the archdiocese failed to inform parishioners, parents or law enforcement officials of Hagan's "criminal conduct and the danger he posed to children."

Hagan, 58, was ordained in 1974 and assigned to St. Catherine-St. Lucy Catholic Churches in Oak Park. In 2003 the Chicago Sun-Times reported that a man claimed that Hagan had abused him while he was a student at the Oak Park parish's school.

A James C. Hagan shares a mortgage and well-kept house with another man on a quiet block of South Wisconsin Avenue in Berwyn. No one answered the doorbell Saturday morning, and no phone number is available for either man.

Neighbors questioned Saturday said that the James C. Hagan living on their street is a quiet man and good neighbor. One stated that Hagan helped organize the neighborhood block party last summer.

In a written statement, the Archdiocese of Chicago said it has shared information "on allegations pertaining to James C. Hagan and on all allegations it has received, including those from anonymous sources, with the authorities and continues to do so."

"I was sickened to learn there was another victim of this abuse," said Tim Guillen, 36, a former sexual abuse victim of Hagan's.

In April 1996, an internal review board affiliated with the archdiocese determined Hagan had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor. The archdiocese put Hagan on administrative leave. In December 1996, Hagan resigned from the ministry, according to the archdiocese.

"[The plaintiff] is an incredibly brave young man," said Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "He is brave to speak out. Had church leaders in this archdiocese acted appropriately, we wouldn't be here today."

Last month, under intense pressure, Cardinal Francis George and the Chicago Archdiocese released the names of 55 current and former living priests with substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct with minors. Hagan's name was included on that list.

"Confidential settlements have allowed Hagan to leave the ministry and enter the community," Anderson said. "We want the community to be warned that James Hagan is a serial predator."

?#34;Bill Dwyer contributed to this report

Reader Comments

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Edward crilly from Oaklawn  

Posted: March 9th, 2014 5:53 PM

We had our son Baptised in 1983 by Hagan, The 1st. Red Flag was when he called the sink where you pour the water over the baby a Scuz-Bowl and he had a new one on order.The 2nd. Red Flag was the way he treated the young men working at the St. Denis Carnival where he was Pastor. I never trusted him and had a Bad Feeling about him that I just couldn't put a finger on. We all know what it was now.

Barbara from chicago  

Posted: March 2nd, 2014 11:27 AM

My sons were alter boys with Father Jim,he never harmed them either but they now recall that he always wanted to hug them and have them sit on his lap,my boys were lucky,so sad for the boys he violated and he also taught sex education at ST.Richards,he fooled us all,BASTARD

jim from Chicago  

Posted: January 21st, 2014 8:20 PM

Jim Hagan was a close friend of the family and never caused no harm to our family ......