Former Schaumburg priest named to Chicago archdiocese abuse list

Updated 2/6/2014 5:45 PM

A former pastor of St. Matthew Catholic Church in Schaumburg has been added to the Archdiocese of Chicago's list of clergy who have substantiated allegations of abuse against them.

Joseph Wilk resigned from the priesthood in September 2010, according to the list. He served as pastor of St. Matthew from 1994 until 2006, when he abruptly resigned. The Archdiocese says the first allegations of abuse weren't reported until years later.


Wilk was sued in May 2013 by a now 28-year-old man claiming he was abused by the former priest starting in 1995, when he was 10 years old.

Though the suit characterizes that first event as an isolated encounter, but the abuse resumed in 1999 when he was a freshman in high school and continued until 2004 when he was 19 years old, according to the plaintiff's attorney, Patrick Bradley.

At that time, the man's girlfriend -- now his wife -- became pregnant, Bradley said. Having no money, job or place to live, the man approached Wilk and demanded $3,000 or said he would go to the police, according to the suit. Bradley said Wilk paid that amount after making the man sign an agreement that he would no longer come near him nor report any abuse to church or governmental authorities.

Neither Wilk nor his attorney could be reached for comment Thursday, but Bradley said the former priest is fighting the lawsuit, denying all allegations of abuse and claiming he is being extorted.

Bradley commended the Archdiocese of Chicago -- which also is named a defendant in the suit -- for substantiating the allegation of abuse, but said that would have no bearing on the litigation.

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John O'Malley, director of legal services for the Archdiocese, said the allegations against Wilk were first brought to church officials by the victim's father in April 2010.

It is against Archdiocese policy to actively approach alleged victims to question them about abuse, but officials did ask the man's father whether his son would come to them on his own, O'Malley said. The reported allegations were passed along to the Cook County State's Attorney's office and the Department of Children and Family Services, but the accuser did not respond to the Archdiocese, he added.

Wilk's resignation from the priesthood in September 2010 was for reasons unrelated to allegations of sex abuse, O'Malley said, but he couldn't be specific. The next time the Archdiocese became involved with the accusations was when it was named a defendant the 2013 lawsuit, O'Malley said.

At that time, the matter was referred to the Archdiocese's Review Process for Continuation of Ministry administered by the Professional Responsibility Review Board. It completed its work and added Wilk to its list of priests with substantiated allegations of abuse within the last week, O'Malley said.


According to the Archdiocese's definition, an allegation is deemed substantiated if there is a reasonable cause to believe the abuse occurred. But the Archdiocese stresses that the finding is not a legal judgment.

In Wilk's case, an additional disciplinary action that could fully return him to lay status may be pending, O'Malley said. That process has been streamlined to be quicker than it was years ago, he added.

Wilk, who was ordained in 1981, served at St. Cornelius and Queen of All Saints parishes in Chicago, as well as St. Matthew.

The Rev. Joseph Glab, the current St. Matthew pastor, said some parishioners may have been aware of the allegations made against Wilk in last year's lawsuit, but others are likely learning about it for the first time.

Nearly a decade has passed since Wilk's time at the parish and a lot has changed since, Glab said. He isn't sure how much of the current congregation knew Wilk when he led the parish, which has had three pastors since 2006.

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