Former priest and Loyola University Chicago professor John Powell has been accused of sexual abuse in connection with a religious retreat held in the late sixties. The November lawsuit represents the third sexual abuse allegation levied against Powell since 2003. The suit also names the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) as a defendant claiming that the organization was aware of several sexual abuse allegations against Powell and did nothing. In addition to his work as a professor and priest, Powell is also a best-selling religious author having penned publications such as “Fully Human” and “Fully Alive”.
The recent civil lawsuit, filed by a Jane Doe plaintiff, alleges abuse by Powell during a 1967 religious retreat held in West Palm Beach Florida. The plaintiff claims that Powell held ‘private counseling sessions’ over the course of the retreat during which he forced the plaintiff to kiss him and forced the plaintiff to undress. The lawsuit alleged negligence and fraud against the Jesuits claiming that the abuse suffered by the Jane Doe victim could have been prevented had the Jesuits acted on prior allegations against Powell.
The allegations follow a 2006 lawsuit alleging that Powell sexually abused four other girls during similar counseling sessions. The 2006 lawsuit, which is still pending, claims that both Loyola administrators and Jesuit leaders actively ignored reports regarding Powell’s inappropriate conduct. Reacting to the recent lawsuits, Barbara Blaine of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) cited the Jesuits as the worst in the country in terms of concealing abuse. Powell has never been criminally charged in relation to the civil sexual abuse allegations and is currently in poor health requiring 24-hour care.
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse, you need a lawyer experienced in handling such a sensitive matter. The law offices of Joseph G. Klest have experience handling sexual abuse cases involving the clergy. As a co-author of the 2003 Child Protection Act, Joseph Klest understands how to navigate sexual abuse cases in Illinois. Contact Joseph G. Klest for a confidential, free initial consultation.