Nebraska man sues former suburban Chi...

Nebraska man sues former suburban Chicago priest

There are 40 comments on the WAND-TV Decatur story from May 7, 2009, titled Nebraska man sues former suburban Chicago priest. In it, WAND-TV Decatur reports that:

A Nebraska man is alleging sexual abuse by a suburban Chicago priest who has sued his previous accusers.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at WAND-TV Decatur.

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the shadow

Glen Ellyn, IL

#1 May 8, 2009
hey burbank residents! wake up..! the same priest, Robert Stepek, works for the city.! in a job created by the mayor himself to take care of his buddy. The city has to cut back in these "tough financial times" but yet old harry can create a BS 30,000 a year job for Stepek. That job has him working out of the police station "couseling" citizens, with the full support of Harrys stooge police chief Radowicz. Anyone see a liability issue here? time to enact some change in city governmemt! Harry and his stooges have run amock unchecked too long. Keep in mind taxspayers, we as a city are self insured up to $1million, so if there is an allegation against former Fr. Stepek while he is a city employee we are on the HOOK..! time to clean some house in city goverment.
Chris Mandel

Springfield, IL

#2 May 8, 2009
Tim always said that studying for the priesthood left a bad taste in his mouth, and he no longer wished to seek his vocation. Now I understand. Fr. Stepek is very bad man.
Eyeball Kid

Independence, OR

#3 May 17, 2009
Chris Mandel:

Father Stepek is not a very bad man. He's been accused of sexual abuse. There have been no determinations about whether or not the allegations are true. An ecclesiastical investigation concluded that something immoral and illegal probably occurred. A state investigation determined that there was not enough evidence to conclude that the allegations were true. Father Stepek apparently wasn't telling the truth about his past as a deacon, as published records have indicated, and because he withheld the truth about his "pre-ordained" past, his credibility is quite low.

Because Mr. Waters makes an additional allegation does not make Father Stepek a very bad man. Mr. Waters presents an allegation that must be proven true. If what really happened is that Father Stepek is hiding a shameful and predatory past, he should be punished and both he and the Church must make amends. But let's go one step at a time and let the facts take the case in a rational direction.

Father Stepek has done a lot of good for a lot of people. He may have hurt others as well. Let's see where the facts take us.
WatchRBack

Homewood, IL

#4 May 20, 2009
The whole Catholic church should wake up! It's no longer cool to be a male dominated society. I grew up Catholic and had no horrible experiences, but when I think about people I intimately know who attended St. Albert's I now know why they were so emotionally void. Granted many other denominations have had allegations hauled at them, as well, but the Catholic church is so ego driven it makes me ill. Don't stand up at the altar and pontificate good manners and ethical behavior when you don't even punish those who robbed people of their lives! End of sermon.
Eyeball Kid wrote:
Chris Mandel:
Father Stepek is not a very bad man. He's been accused of sexual abuse. There have been no determinations about whether or not the allegations are true. An ecclesiastical investigation concluded that something immoral and illegal probably occurred. A state investigation determined that there was not enough evidence to conclude that the allegations were true. Father Stepek apparently wasn't telling the truth about his past as a deacon, as published records have indicated, and because he withheld the truth about his "pre-ordained" past, his credibility is quite low.
Because Mr. Waters makes an additional allegation does not make Father Stepek a very bad man. Mr. Waters presents an allegation that must be proven true. If what really happened is that Father Stepek is hiding a shameful and predatory past, he should be punished and both he and the Church must make amends. But let's go one step at a time and let the facts take the case in a rational direction.
Father Stepek has done a lot of good for a lot of people. He may have hurt others as well. Let's see where the facts take us.
Eyeball Kid

Independence, OR

#5 May 20, 2009
I'd like to know more about those who were in St. Albert's parish, and why they think that Father Stepek had an effect on their emotional development. I'd also like to know if others were adversely affected by Father Stepek, even if there were no events that could be perceived as something to report to authorities.

I'm in a unique position with regard to Fr. Stepek. I cannot disclose the nature of my relationship, but I do not feel a loyalty to him or his cause. I know that he seems to have a fervent following. I don't understand how this could happen, but it has. If others were adversely (or otherwise) affected by personal contacts with Fr. Stepek, it would help me understand more about him.
Kaye

Woodridge, IL

#6 May 28, 2009
The comment from Chris Mandel is a voice from the grave. He was found dead back in the 1980's. I guess we can come back from the other side.

By the way, Chris, Tim never went to seminary to study to become a priest. I guess lies are still able to be said from the great beyond.

Father Stepek is innocent of all charges, all three men are just trying to get some money.
Eyeball Kid

Independence, OR

#7 May 28, 2009
Kaye:

The probability that Fr. Stepek is not culpable of any improper or illegal behavior was more likely when only addressing the issues with the first two reported victims. If it were a clean case of two brothers seeking a vendetta, as Stepek has alleged, then Stepek would still be sailing in clear waters.

But problems have arisen. First, Fr. Stepek didn't tell the truth in an interview in which he stated that he never mistreated anyone in any official clerical capacity. It was later revealed that Fr. Stepek was at risk of being removed from seminary by abusing a teen-aged boy during a church social event while Fr. Stepek was a deacon.

This latest allegation by a Mr. Waters muddies the water even more. If the any counter-allegation against Mr. Waters is that he's only after the money, then why is he asking for a mere $50k in damages. That's chump change if he's at risk of going to civil court to get his clock cleaned in a cross examination. That low figure implies that Mr. Waters isn't trying to strike the Mother Lode, but is just trying to seek justice.

Understand that one of the common threads in the allegations is Fr. Stepek's propensity to take all three reported victims to...Florida on vacations. A cynic would variously describe this pattern as "grooming behavior."

For the sake of a man who's no doubt done a lot of good work among the people of his parish, both before and during his tenure at St. Albert's, there would be a lot of relief felt by a great many people if Fr. Stepek were to be exonerated by evidence, testimony, or blanket admissions by his accusers that the allegations are false. But it's nearly a guarantee that this won't happen. If I were actively supporting Fr. Stepek, I'd be very dispirited by this third reported victim's sworn testimony. It's getting to look bad, and the row that Fr. Stepek has to hoe looks even tougher.

On the other hand, if Fr. Stepek cannot reconcile the evidence with his claims that they're all in it for the money, there's a stronger likelihood that his behavior is predatory and possibly illegal, that he used his privileged position within the church to protect himself from accountability, and that he may not be establishing relationships with parishioners solely with THEIR best interests at heart.
LOL

Aurora, IL

#8 Jun 10, 2009
The Illinois Appellate court just rendered it's decision and dismissed Stepek's defamation lawsuit against the Doe's.

Bite it, FATHER.
Eyeball Kid

Independence, OR

#9 Jun 11, 2009
The recent Appellate Court decision is indeed bad news for Fr. Stepek.

It goes with the territory that people who engage the public as their vocation or professional choosing, such as Fr. Stepek has, or have countless people in the social services field, to encounter a false allegation of sexual abuse. Normally, these allegations are made by people who have experienced trauma during times and events that are metaphorical to the immediate allegations. Some complainants register long histories of making unfounded allegations against social services workers.

For people who aren't life-long sufferers of trauma seeking a metaphorical solution, making an allegation of sexual abuse is nothing short of a pain in the ass that no amount of monetary award can compensate. From a common sense perspective, it takes a mighty effort for most people to suspend their beliefs about human nature and continue to give Fr. Stepek the benefit of the doubt.

But let's remember still, there has been no proof in a criminal proceeding that Fr. Stepek is guilty of sexually abusing three alleged victims when they were in their more vulnerable years. Yet Fr. Stepek knows the truth, and so do the three alleged victims, and perhaps others. Still, we can only guess.
Jordan S

Aurora, IL

#10 Jun 11, 2009
Eyeball kid,
Well said.
I think what people fail to recall is that the church approached the victims and asked them to come forward anonymously.
I wonder if anyone knows if the church is in fact, trying to defrock Father Stepek or is that just a rumor. If it is true, it would be an act of historical proportions. Sounding guilty.
Also, does he really work for the Burbank, IL police department? I don't live in Burbank, so I don't care, but I'm not sure that is a wise choice.
What do you make of this third alleged victim? Since the doe's were from St Symphorosa parish and the Waters victim is from St Christina parish--clear across the city...I wouldnt think they know each other or anything. In fact, Waters lives out of state, right? The conspiracy theory is blown out of the water.
Although I try to keep an open mind, this is sounding a little fishy on the Rev. Robert Stepek's part.
What are your thoughts?
Jordan
Doubtful

Berwyn, IL

#11 Jun 11, 2009
I personally do not like Fr. Stepek. However I am a parishioner who remembers a sermon in which he commented how it really bothered him when shopping a man swore at him and mentioned the Church scandals. Fr. said that he did not deserve this kind of treatment and it really bothered him. This was about 2 years before he was acused by the brothers. I really really do not like Fr. Stepek but reflecting back on this sermon I am very very doubtful the allegations are true.
Eyeball Kid

Independence, OR

#12 Jun 12, 2009
Jordan S wrote:
Eyeball kid,
Well said.
I think what people fail to recall is that the church approached the victims and asked them to come forward anonymously.
I wonder if anyone knows if the church is in fact, trying to defrock Father Stepek or is that just a rumor. If it is true, it would be an act of historical proportions. Sounding guilty.
Also, does he really work for the Burbank, IL police department? I don't live in Burbank, so I don't care, but I'm not sure that is a wise choice.
What do you make of this third alleged victim? Since the doe's were from St Symphorosa parish and the Waters victim is from St Christina parish--clear across the city...I wouldnt think they know each other or anything. In fact, Waters lives out of state, right? The conspiracy theory is blown out of the water.
Although I try to keep an open mind, this is sounding a little fishy on the Rev. Robert Stepek's part.
What are your thoughts?
Jordan
The Church will always do what's best for the Church. In our younger days, we tended to view its decisions from a purely moral perspective. But we found out later that the Church is masterful at Damage Control. Fr. Stepek, regardless of whether he's pure and innocent or whether he's a predator, is disposable, and any decision on what to do with him will ultimately be a political and economic one.

For a moment, place yourself in the position of an archdiocese aid to the Cardinal. You think of Father Stepek and his legal antics and all you can do is get pissed. You get pissed because he's a boil on your ass, and he's not going away. You know his history since his years as a deacon and you think, any priest who can't keep his nose clean is nothing but a piece of work who is only hastening the decline of the Church's capital assets, and that REALLY doesn't please the Cardinal. So you want him to just go away, you want him out of the headlines and you don't want any more bad press from him. And that was BEFORE the Waters allegation!

This is why I've maintained the point of view that, regardless of whether Fr. Stepek is innocent or guilty of sexual abuse, his time as a priest has expired. He's now a liability. He's been given royal privileges through his association with the Church and its culture, and the hand that was open to him is now clenched and withdrawn.
Eyeball Kid

Independence, OR

#13 Jun 12, 2009
Doubtful wrote:
I personally do not like Fr. Stepek. However I am a parishioner who remembers a sermon in which he commented how it really bothered him when shopping a man swore at him and mentioned the Church scandals. Fr. said that he did not deserve this kind of treatment and it really bothered him. This was about 2 years before he was acused by the brothers. I really really do not like Fr. Stepek but reflecting back on this sermon I am very very doubtful the allegations are true.
I know I'm asking you a personal question, but I'm nonetheless curious: what is/was it about Fr. Stepek that led you to the opinion you have about him? Was he patronizing? Condescending? Bigoted? Did he insult you? How did he offend you, directly or indirectly? Did his behavior remind you of someone who had taken his position for granted? Was he exploitive in a more subtle, generic sense?

It would be understandable if you did not respond.

Oh, and in response to another poster, Fr. Stepek does work for the City of Burbank in a social work or counseling capacity.
Dont think so

Palos Hills, IL

#14 Jun 12, 2009
Oh, come one. It happened 22 years ago and he said nothing until now ? You think of an event that happened 22 years ago that took place with another person and i bet you both will have different story. Here., the birth of my child, 24 years ago. I can hardly remember. I know i was happy. I know tiny bits and pieces. I am sure my Doctor doesn't remember. 1 yr, 5? or maybe when then reached adulthood. 22 years is looking for sick fame or money.
Eyeball Kid

United States

#15 Jun 12, 2009
Dont think so wrote:
Oh, come one. It happened 22 years ago and he said nothing until now ? You think of an event that happened 22 years ago that took place with another person and i bet you both will have different story. Here., the birth of my child, 24 years ago. I can hardly remember. I know i was happy. I know tiny bits and pieces. I am sure my Doctor doesn't remember. 1 yr, 5? or maybe when then reached adulthood. 22 years is looking for sick fame or money.
The birth of your child may not have been part of a memory connected to Post Traumatic Stress. As a joyful moment, the repercussions could only have been positive for your child, as mothers everywhere can attest.

It's well-documented in clinical and epidemiological studies that those who experience trauma of various kinds can carry those painful memories into the months and years afterward. Further, those memories can adversely affect coping mechanisms and activities of daily living in a variety of ways. I would advise that you read the description of PTSD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the APA. PTSD is real, just as it was real for "shell-shocked" soldiers in the past world wars.
Dont think so

Palos Hills, IL

#16 Jun 12, 2009
Good points, very good point. And i agree with all you said. But a 15 year old that never said anything? This wasn't a scared 7 year old.I have a teenager now and another that is 35 yrs old. They call every little thing a 'homo'( not to offend anyone )and many other choice names. There is no way, it would happened to them & they not say anything, punch him or tell all their friends about the 'homo'. He didn't have to live with him or see him. I clearly believe this does happen. I just am very doubtful in this case.
Eyeball Kid

Independence, OR

#17 Jun 12, 2009
Dont think so wrote:
Good points, very good point. And i agree with all you said. But a 15 year old that never said anything? This wasn't a scared 7 year old.I have a teenager now and another that is 35 yrs old. They call every little thing a 'homo'( not to offend anyone )and many other choice names. There is no way, it would happened to them & they not say anything, punch him or tell all their friends about the 'homo'. He didn't have to live with him or see him. I clearly believe this does happen. I just am very doubtful in this case.
I understand your point of view. But all it takes for a 15 year-old to hold his peace with a traumatic event is a doubt about his sexual identity,(which is natural for teen-aged boys), a sense of loyalty to the Mentor, and a fear that talking about this issue with anyone will brand you as the one who is guilty of wrongdoing, that perhaps it was YOU who caused the priest to be led astray, and that it will be YOU who will be stigmatized for the rest of your life.

And ALL of these possible factors (and more) are nothing out of the ordinary for a teen-aged boy who feels an affinity toward the holy and the powerful, who might want to be in the shoes of his mentor someday, and who doesn't want to break the spell of the special attention that a priest is showing him.

Once again, we don't know the truth. All we can imagine are the possibilities. All we know is the behavior of the principles involved in these dramas as we read about them, or if we know them personally, what we observe about them.

The stakes are high for the reported victims in their struggle for credibility, but the stakes are higher yet for Fr. Stepek due to his attempts to use a good offense as his best defense. For Fr. Stepek, a potential fall from grace is much longer, much harder, and all his own.
Jane Doe

United States

#18 Jun 15, 2009
I would really like to talk to you and pick your brain.. Outside of the forum. Any suggestions? I'm guessing u might have reasons to conceal your identity, but I find u informational and fair.
Jane Doeg

United States

#19 Jun 15, 2009
]I personally do not like Fr. Stepek. However I am a parishioner who remembers a sermon in which he commented how it really bothered him when shopping a man swore at him and mentioned the Church scandals. Fr. said that he did not deserve this kind of treatment and it really bothered him. This was about 2 years before he was acused by the brothers. I really really do not like Fr. Stepek but reflecting back onthis sermon I am very verydoubtfultheallegations are true.
Are u serious. Because of that sermon, stepek CANT be a podophile? The cardinal feels that the allegations are true. Thatsgood enough for me.
I don't like stepek either.
Ozzy

Rockford, IL

#20 Jun 15, 2009
The kid Stepek gave a black eye to 20 years ago was a Grade A Punk that was harassing a fellow female student. he took the kid aside and the kid started running his punk mouth and guess what happened? WHAT HAPPENED WAS IT WAS THE GOOD OLD DAYS WHERE IF YOU ACTED LIKE AN A-HOLE IN A CATHOLIC SCHOOL, YOU GOT THE TAR KNOCKED OUT OF YOU!!!!!!! i thank God i grew up in that era.

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