Rev. Peter Bowman faced at least 9 abuse accusations

  • Rev. Peter Bowman

    Rev. Peter Bowman

Updated 11/6/2014 11:33 PM

The Rev. Peter Bowman, one-time beloved pastor of St. James Parish in Arlington Heights, faced at least nine allegations of sexual abuse of minors over the course of more than five decades as a priest.

Details of the accusations -- of which seven were substantiated by the archdiocese's review board -- were revealed in a 941-page file released Thursday by the archdiocese.


Bowman's file was one of 36 made available involving priests who have faced "substantiated" allegations of child sexual abuse, according to the archdiocese. Documents on 30 other priests were released in January.

Most of the accusations against Bowman arose after he had been removed from public ministry in 2002. That's when archdiocese officials first learned of allegations of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy more than 45 years before.

The documents reveal Bowman was accused of two instances of abuse while at St. James, where he served as pastor from 1978 to 1995: kissing a fifth or sixth grader on the mouth, and exposing himself to a seventh grader in the parish offices.

Before he arrived at St. James, Bowman spent time at four other parishes, where he was accused of grooming, genital fondling and kissing minors. In some cases, abuse was said to have occurred when he accompanied children on out-of-state trips.

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The documents show Bowman denied instances of abuse in almost every case, in interviews and correspondence with archdiocese officials.

"I can also say that I have never acted with any intent, purpose, desire, lust, or motive for sexual gratification with any child, of either sex," Bowman wrote in a December 2002 letter to Cardinal Francis George.

After his removal, Bowman lived with his sister, at archdiocese facilities in Mundelein and nursing homes. Though he had been removed from ministry, the files indicate Bowman didn't comply with archdiocese monitoring rules, and in some instances, was found to have celebrated Masses in his home for 30 to 40 people.

During a 2009-2010 compliance reporting period, monitors found Bowman to have repeatedly disappeared and lied about his whereabouts, sometimes visiting friends at their homes where children were present, the documents say.

Bowman died in April 2011.

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