Chicago priest steps aside from parish amid sexual assault allegations

Chicago priest steps aside from parish amid sexual assault allegations
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The Archdiocese of Chicago announced on Wednesday that it had one of its pastors step aside after allegations arose this week that he sexually assaulted a minor 36 years ago.

The Associated Press reports that Cardinal Blase Cupich told members of the Christ the King parish in a letter that the Rev. Larry Sullivan will be living away from the parish as the allegations are investigated. The archdiocese’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review first learned of the allegations against Sullivan this week, according to Cupich.

“Allegations are claims that have not been proven as true or false,” Cupich wrote in the letter. “Therefore, guilt or innocence should not be assumed.”

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The allegations have been referred to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as well as the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, according to the AP.

The AP reports that Sullivan sent a letter to parishioners on Monday stating he became aware of the allegations after they were posted on social media.

Sullivan acknowledged that he made "unwelcome verbal comments" to a female employee when he worked at a fast food restaurant in 1984 that upset her and caused her parents and the police to become involved.

Sullivan claims there was no physical contact between him and the then-minor and that there was no further police action after he spoke with them once. He was 18 at the time of the incident. The identity of the woman has not been reported.

“I was then, and am now, ashamed and deeply sorry that my words caused pain and hardship to her,” Sullivan wrote. “I pray that my accuser accepts my sincere apology and that it provides her with healing.”