Former Hoffman priest abused teen over six years

 
 
Updated 11/6/2014 6:31 PM

In July 1985, Tom Ventura, vicar of priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago, received a phone call from a young man claiming that as a high school student about five years earlier he had been sexually abused by two priests in the rectory of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.

Ventura, according to documents released Thursday by the Archdiocese of Chicago, confronted one of the priests, James Flosi, about the allegations. Flosi, records state, vigorously denied the claims, and the matter was not pursued any further.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It wasn't until 1991, after Flosi had taken a church-funded sabbatical, served at three other parishes and was blocked from a fourth amid rumors of him being gay, that more accusations surfaced and the archdiocese took a second look.

What they found, according to church documents, were several allegations of sexual abuse against Flosi dating back more than two decades, including his years at St. Hubert Parish in Hoffman Estates.

By the time the archdiocese substantiated the accusations in 2006, Flosi had been gone from the priesthood 14 years, declaring in a 1992 letter of resignation that "this is the only way I can continue to share my talents and gifts freely, and accomplish the many goals I have set for myself and to which I still feel called."

Flosi joined St. Hubert in 1971, his first assignment after his ordination. He almost immediately began a sexual relationship with a then 15-year-old boy, one that would continue over six years, according to accusations in church documents. Although it would be decades before those claims would be reported formally, investigators' reports indicate that fellow St. Hubert priests and even some parishioners suspected improprieties at the time.

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When later confronted about some of the earliest allegations against him, Flosi told former Cardinal Joseph Bernardin he had been taking diet pills in the early 1970s and they, along with another factor redacted from the report, caused him to lose his memory from that time, records show.

Flosi left St. Hubert in 1976 to take a posting at Holy Name Cathedral, where he would remain until 1985. He also was the archdiocese's director of pastoral care for separated and divorced Catholics, later renamed Phoenix Ministry for Separated and Divorced Catholics.

While at Holy Name that Flosi reportedly sexually abused two other young men, according to documents released by the archdiocese. At least one of those accusations reached church leadership by 1985, but no formal action was taken until years later.

Ultimately, the archdiocese's Review Board found there was reasonable cause to suspect abuse occurred both in the six-year relationship at St. Hubert as well as one of the allegations made at Holy Name. Several other allegations -- including one claiming Flosi attempted to get two middle-school aged children to masturbate for him at St. Hubert -- were not presented to the board, but are included in the case file released Thursday.

Flosi was laicized in 2010.

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