Evergreen Park priest steps aside as archdiocese investigates decades-old allegation of sexual abuse – Chicago Tribune –

An associate pastor at an Evergreen Park church has stepped aside after the Chicago Archdiocese said it was informed of an allegation that he sexually abused a minor some 40 years ago, before he entered the priesthood.

In a letter to parishioners of Most Holy Redeemer, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the archdiocese received the allegation while the Rev. Paul Guzman was serving overseas on military duty.

The alleged abuse occurred when Guzman was a layman and 25 years before he entered Mundelein Seminary to prepare for the priesthood, according to the letter.

Guzman was directed to step aside from ministry immediately and to live away from Most Holy Redeemer Parish when he returned from his military service, according to the letter.

Guzman serves as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was stationed as a chaplain at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti in Africa, according to the Navy.

The cardinal’s letter said the allegation of abuse was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County state’s attorney. The person making the allegation has been offered the opportunity to take part in an investigation by the archdiocese, according to the letter.

“It is important to remind everyone that, while the Archdiocese takes every allegation of child sexual abuse seriously, the fact of an allegation does not presume guilt,” Cupich wrote.

Guzman did not respond Monday to messages seeking comment.

He was ordained in May 2012 by Cardinal Francis George and initially assigned to St. Damian in Oak Forest, according to the archdiocese.

Guzman worked for 10 years as a police officer with the U.S. Department of Justice and 17 years as a nurse before his ordination, according to the archdiocese.

The archdiocese letter cautions an allegation does not presume guilt, and asks people to reserve judgment until the investigation is complete.

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Last December, Cupich reinstated influential Faith Community of St. Sabina leader the Rev. Michael Pfleger following an investigation into abuse allegations against the priest.

Pfleger was forced away from the church in mid-October after a man in his 40s alleged the priest sexually abused him in the late 1980s, but an investigation by the diocese determined the allegations were unfounded.

It was the second time Pfleger had been accused of sexual abuse then reinstated.

In May 2021, the pastor of Christ the King Church on Chicago’s Southwest Side was reinstated after a month’s leave by Cupich following an accusation of sexual assault that allegedly occurred nearly four decades earlier.

In a letter to parishioners at the time the allegation surfaced, Sullivan wrote that while he was at a fast-food restaurant, he made “unwelcome verbal comments to a female employee that upset her to the extent that her parents and the police were contacted.” Sullivan wrote that there was no physical contact between himself and the young woman.

The Rev. Larry Sullivan had stepped away from parish responsibilities following a report alleging he sexually assaulted a minor when he was 18, but the allegation could not be substantiated, the archdiocese said.


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