By Jean Lotus
A 79-year-old Dominican priest who formerly lived in River Forest and worked at Midway Airport was found not guilty Monday of criminal sexual abuse and aggravated battery.
Rev. Bede R. Jagoe was charged with inappropriately kissing a 61-year-old male passenger from Kansas who said Jagoe also squeezed his groin in an elevator on Dec. 11, 2011.
The man's wife reported the incident to Chicago police the next day, after the man had returned to Kansas City.
Judge Nicholas Ford declared Jagoe not guilty, citing the fact that the alleged victim did not inform police about the event while he was in the airport. He also cited airport surveillance video showing the two men hugging, briefly holding hands and talking casually after the alleged abuse took place.
Jagoe is a retired priest of the Dominican order and formerly lived at the priory residence at 7200 Division Street in River Forest. The priory no longer houses friars and is used by Dominican University. Jagoe had no connection with Dominican University.
Jagoe had been assigned to limited service as a part-time airport pastor. At the time of the incident, the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great suspended Jagoe and removed him from all priestly duties while the investigation took place.
At that time, Jagoe moved out of the River Forest priory and moved into the province house at 2005 S. Ashland Ave. in Chicago, said Prior Provincial the Very Rev. Charles E. Bouchard.
Jagoe's priest privileges were reinstated immediately after the not guilty verdict, according to a statement by Dominican Order spokesman Bill Skowronski. But it is unlikely that Jagoe will perform any pastoral duties in the near future. He reportedly is not in good health, and was in a hospital gurney while attending his one-day bench trial. He currently lives in a residential nursing facility in Chicago, Bouchard said.
"We take allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously," Bouchard said in a statement. "But there are instances of false or unsubstantiated claims."
"We're glad that in this case, Fr. Jagoe's name was cleared by the court. There was a rush to judgment at the time that is understandable, but unfair in this case as the court found him to be not guilty," Bouchard stated.