CHICAGO — A Chicago priest accused of sexual wrongdoing has been found not guilty.
Rev. Gary Graf was pastor at San Jose Luis Sanchez Del Rio Parish in Hermosa. A church employee, who was a minor, accused him of inappropriate behavior in July.
The teenager said he once received a phone call from the church secretary saying Graf was attracted to him. He said Graf would also rub his shoulders and once offered him a free car. The teen said he immediately told his parents.
The Archdiocese of Chicago removed Graf from ministry pending an investigation. The Department of Children and Family Services looked into the matter and found no wrongdoing.
Since the church alerted the police, criminal charges were pursued. Graf maintained his innocence.
In a criminal bench trial on Wednesday, a judge found him not guilty.
Now, it is up to the archdiocese to decide when Graf will return to his parish.
WGN’s Dina Bair spoke with Graf who said in order to protect all children, the process of investigation must be pursued. He believes to root out true abusers, a system has to be in place to remove priests from ministry during the investigation.
He is happy to be free of those accusations now and looks forward to getting back to serving the church and his parishioners.
The Archdiocese of Chicago released the following statement:
We have received word that Fr. Gary Graf has been acquitted of all charges in a bench trial today before Judge Daniel Gallagher.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ruled the allegations against Fr Graf to be “unfounded” per a letter to Fr. Graf dated 11/05/2018 stating that “this means no credible evidence of child abuse or neglect was found during this investigation.”
Now that the public authorities have completed their investigations and the court has rendered a verdict, the archdiocese, in accordance with its established procedures, will bring to conclusion its own investigation and will provide its findings to its Independent Review Board for the Board’s determinations and recommendations to Cardinal Cupich. The results of his process will be made public.