Joliet Diocese sued over Roselle molestations
The mother of two boys who accused an elderly church usher of sexually assaulting them at his Roselle home has filed a lawsuit against the Joliet Diocese alleging it failed to remove the volunteer after he was accused of inappropriately touching a child on at least one earlier occasion.
Chester Stabrowski, 91, pleaded guilty in October to sexually assaulting one of the brothers -- ages 11 and 12 -- after inviting them over to swim in July 2007. In exchange for his plea, additional charges involving the other boy were dismissed, and Stabrowski was sentenced to six years in prison.
The lawsuit filed Friday in DuPage County accuses church leaders of allowing Stabrowski to remain a volunteer even after he was accused of inappropriately touching another child on a previous occasion. It claims Stabrowski developed relationships with young church members by giving them candy while working as an usher and parking lot attendant at St. Walter Church in Roselle.
According to the complaint, church leaders knew or should have known of Stabrowski's "dangerous and exploitive propensities as a child sexual abuser and/or unfit agent." In addition to Stabrowski, the suit names the diocese, Bishop J. Peter Sartain and church pastors Francis McDonald and John Regan.
"Defendants breached their duties of care by exposing the plaintiffs to unsupervised contact with defendant Stabrowski, which gave (him) the opportunity to sexually abuse the plaintiffs," according to the 5-page lawsuit, which seeks damages of at least $50,000.
Administrative offices for the diocese were closed Tuesday, and a church official did not immediately respond to a phone message and email seeking comment.
The suit identifies Stabrowski as a longtime St. Walter volunteer who always wore a Knights of Columbus blazer and was known for giving candy to young church members. It contends McDonald told Stabrowski to stop giving away candy after he was accused of inappropriately touching a child on an earlier occasion but ultimately failed to remove him from the post.
In the July 2007 case, Stabrowski invited the alleged victims to his home to help him stuff envelopes for the church and to go swimming afterward, according to the lawsuit. After sexually assaulting the children, he told them "not to tell their parents or anyone else what happened, and he gave them baseball cards and took them out to eat before returning them to their home," according to the lawsuit.
The suit says Stabrowski abused the brothers on several occasions, causing "severe and permanent emotional distress."
Stabrowski is serving his sentence at the downstate Dixon Correctional Center, where he turned 91 this month.
The lawsuit -- due in court in March -- comes about four months after Regan was sentenced to probation and jail for stealing about $300,000 from St. Walter to feed a gambling addiction.