The Chicago Archdiocese handed over $800k on Tuesday (April 26) after one of their prominent Black priests was accused of sexually abusing a young boy on over 20 separate occasions.
Reverend George Clements, a trailblazer in the African American Catholic community, allegedly preyed on a seven-year-old boy for five years while he was a priest at Chicago's Holy Angels Church. According to the boy's lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, the abuse took place in the church rectory, in Clements’ car, and while on a camping trip between 1974 to 1979.
“It was the worst you could imagine,” Garabedian said during a news conference.“When my client reported the abuse to his mother, [he says] his mother locked him in the closet and said, ‘Don’t ever talk about Father Clements like that again."
On Tuesday, Garabedian reached an $800k settlement with the Archdiocese agreed upon in private mediation, NBC News reports. The money will go to the boy, now 54, and four other victims allegedly sexually abused by various Chicago Catholic clergymen.
For so long, Clements, revered as a civil rights hero in Chicago, has been protected by the Archdiocese, according to the lawyer.
“The hiding has to stop,” Garabedian said in a statement. “The secrecy has to stop.”
The accuser's lawyer called for Clements, who died in 2019, to be put on the archdiocese's public list of "credibly accused priests."
However, the Chicago Archdiocese has not admitted to any wrongdoings despite awarding the settlement. According to NBC News, they declined to comment on Clement's alleged abuse.
“We don’t comment on lawsuits, claims, or settlements,” an archdiocese spokesperson told NBC News via email.