CHICAGO — A Chicago priest has been asked to step away from ministry following a report of minor sex abuse from over 35 years ago.
In a letter to members of the Christ the King parish and school, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the archdiocese received a minor sex abuse allegation involving Rev. Lawrence Sullivan.
Sullivan has agreed to cooperate with the request and will live away from the parish, the archdiocese said.
Rev. James Mezydlo will serve as the temporary administrator of Christ the King Parish and will attend to the needs of the parish and school.
The archdiocese said the report alleges that Sullivan sexually assaulted a minor 36 years ago when he was 18. They did not specify if he was involved in ministry at that time or not.
Sullivan has been at Christ the King, which is located in Beverly, for the past six years, according to his biography.
The archdiocese said the allegation was reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
The person making the allegation has been offered the services of the Victim Assistance Ministry as the archdiocese investigates.
WGN News obtained an apology Sullivan sent to parishioners. In it, Sullivan claims the incident was unwelcomed “verbal comments” and no physical interaction took place.
Read his statement below.
I am aware of an accusation against me that has been posted on social media regarding an incident that occurred in 1984 when I was 18 years old and had just completed high school. I do recall the night described: I was at a fast-food restaurant and I made unwelcome verbal comments to a female employee that upset her to the extent that her parents and the police were contacted. There was no physical interaction between me and the young woman. I was in the restaurant and spoke to the police, and I left the restaurant without any further police action.
I was then, and am now, ashamed and deeply sorry that my words caused pain and hardship to her.
I want to be clear that these allegations were brought to my attention after having been presented on social media and I have not been formally advised that any complaint has been made to the Archdiocese. Nevertheless, I have reported this video to the Archdiocese myself.
I pray that my accuser accepts my sincere apology and that it provides her with healing. I am also praying that the impact of this matter does not bring unnecessary strife to our faith community.
Fr. Larry Sullivan