Longtime priest faced accusations from three suburban parishes
The Rev. John Hefferan served 11 Catholic parishes from the far South suburbs to the northernmost reaches of Lake County during his more than four decades as a priest.
In at least three of those stops, according to a 311-page report released by the Archdiocese of Chicago on Thursday, parishioners accused Hefferan of sexual misconduct.
The first accusation surfaced in March 1993, when a woman called church officials to report that Hefferan had kissed and touched her inappropriately in the late 1970s at St. John Vianney in Northlake, when she was 12 years old. Hefferan was assigned to St. Vianney in 1975 after serving two years at St. John the Evangelist in Streamwood.
Hefferan, who was at an Oak Lawn parish in 1993, denied the claims when meeting with a church investigator the next day, but the Archdiocese found the report credible enough to restrict him from being alone with minors. Those restrictions were lifted four months later, however.
More allegations surfaced in 2002 and 2003. In the first case, the archdiocese received an email from a person who claimed to have been "sexually exploited" by Hefferan from 1964-67 at St. Anastasia Parish in Waukegan. Because the person declined repeated requests to file a formal complaint, the archdiocese did not pursue the allegation further.
However, a formal complaint was filed about six months later by a woman who told church officials Hefferan had fondled her breasts in the late 1960s when she was a junior high school student at a parish in South suburban Flossmoor.
Hefferan denied the accusation and blamed it on a case of mistaken identity, but church officials found reason to believe sexual misconduct occurred and removed the longtime priest from public ministry in February 2003, a move ultimately supported by Cardinal Francis George.
Hefferan, who also spent time at St. Bede Catholic Church in Ingleside in the late 1990s, is believed the be living at a retirement home for priests in Lemont. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.