Chicago Archdiocese reaches settlement over sex abuse claims against Rev. George Clements
CHICAGO - In 1987, a made-for-TV movie called "The Father Clements Story" starred Louis Gossett, Junior, in the title role, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner as a youth he was helping.
Now, the Chicago Archdiocese is paying more than a $100,000 to a man who says Rev. George Clements sexually brutalized him.
Lawyer Mitchell Garabedian says his client was a victim: "He was sexually abused by Father Clements at least 20 times. I'm not going to go into the graphic detail of the sexual abuse. But it's the worst you could imagine."
The Boston-based lawyer has a movie connection of his own. Actor Stanley Tucci played Garabedian in "Spotlight," about clerical sexual abuse in Boston.
The settlement in the Clements case was among five announced Tuesday by Garabedian. Although each of the sexual abuse allegations was too old to allow the filing of a lawsuit, the Chicago Archdiocese reviewed the complaints and agreed to pay a total of $800,000.
The client in the Clements case, who still lives in the Chicago area and does not want to be publicly identified, says he was 7-years-old when the abuse began in 1974 at Holy Angels Parish.
"My client was sexually abused for approximately five years, approximately 1974 to 1979, when he was seven to 12-years-old," Garabedian said. "He was sexually abused in the rectory of Holy Angels Church, in Father Clements' car and on a camping trip."
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The client is now 54-years-old. Growing up without a father in a family beset by alcoholism, he says he told his mother and other relatives about the abuse.
"When he told his aunt about being sexually abused by Father Clements," Garabedian said, "his mother once again locked him in the closet and said, ‘don't ever speak about Father Clements in such a bad manner.’ Father Clements had everybody fooled."
A few months before Clements died, a man claimed the priest had abused him as a child 45 years earlier. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ruled that allegation "unfounded."
Seeking to demolish what remains of Father Clements’ national reputation, the lawyer called on the Chicago Archdiocese to place him on its internet list of clerical predators, even though Clements died in 2019.
"It's time for the Archdiocese of Chicago to list Father Clements as being credibly accused and remove any sort of honors that pertain to Father Clements, physical or otherwise; whether it be paintings, insignias, books," Garabedian said.
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Archdiocese said Cardinal Blasé Cupich does not comment on lawsuits, claims or settlements.