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New Priest Sex Abuse Suit Filed

Oct 6, 2002 | The Daily Journal

A third lawsuit has been filed in Will County alleging sexual abuse by a priest of the Joliet Diocese.
The suit by James F. Fonck of Florida alleges that the Rev. Michael L. Gibbney sexually abused him in 1978 and 1979 while Fonck was a 13-year-old altar boy at Mary Queen of Heaven Church in Elmhurst.

Fonck, 37, is also naming Bishop Joseph Imesch as a defendant in the lawsuit charging that the bishop and other church officials failed to report acts of sexual abuse to the proper authorities.

Gibbney has reportedly has been on administrative leave since 1992. His last assignment was at Immaculate Conception Church in Morris in 1991 and 1992.

He was ordained in 1975 and served at three parishes in Elmhurst -- Immaculate Conception, Visitation, and Mary Queen of Heaven -- before being transferred to St. Isidore Church in Bloomingdale in 1981 and then St. Charles Borromeo Church in Bensenville in 1987, the complaint states.

Two other diocesan priests have been named in recent Will County lawsuits alleging sexual abuse.

The Rev. Lawrence Mullins was accorded in September of molesting five boys while he was pastor at St. Raymond Cathedral in Joliet during the late 1970s. Mullins was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and therapy in 1986 after the diocese learned of the allegations and was allowed to remain in ministry.

In August, a lawsuit alleged that the Rev. Caroll Howlin molested a teen-age boy at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Romeoville 27 years ago. The plaintiff in that case is a 44-year-old California man.

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