KANKAKEE — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet and Bishop Daniel Conlon are named in a civil lawsuit charging them with knowing Father Richard Jacklin had sexually abused people he ministered.
The suit was filed in Kankakee County Circuit Court by Chicago-based Cavanagh Law Group this week. Jacklin also was named as a defendant.
On Oct. 31, 2017, Jacklin was arrested and charged with criminal sexual assault of a handicap person and sexual misconduct of a disabled resident of Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee.
According to the lawsuit, Jacklin was seen performing a sex act on a then 39-year-old resident of Shapiro. The victim has an IQ of 47 and has been a resident at Shapiro since 2010. The victim also suffers from partial paralysis.
Jacklin, an ordained priest since June 1984, has been in the diocese since at least 1996.
Attorney Timothy J. Cavanagh represents the estate of the victim and Barry Lowy, the victim’s state guardian since 1999.
The suit seeks $150,000 in damages plus court costs.
“This is yet another tragic example of a priest using his position of power and trust to hurt a vulnerable victim he was supposed to be trying to help,” Cavanagh said.
“The Bishop and the Diocese knew or should have known of problems and allegations in the past in this regard with Father Jacklin. Instead of protecting defenseless people like the victim, they put them at risk.”
Joliet Diocese Executive Assistant Alex Rechenmacher told the Daily Journal in an email, “We have not yet been served with a copy of the lawsuit, and so couldn’t comment at this time.”
According to the lawsuit, the diocese and bishop failed to inform Shapiro officials, governmental officials or law enforcement of Jacklin’s past or to make sure Jacklin was properly supervised while working with disabled and defenseless individuals at Shapiro.
The lawsuit also claims the diocese and bishop knew or should have been aware of Jacklin’s propensity to sexually abuse those he was administering.
It further asserts that “the victim has suffered injury from inappropriate sexual touching and injury from a sexually and/or otherwise abusive relationship, and has suffered and will in the future suffer traumatic, psychological, spiritual and emotional injury and distress. He has suffered and will continue to suffer pain. He has further suffered loss of the normal enjoyment of life, difficulty in trusting and dealing with adults.”
According to the lawsuit, the bishop and the Diocese failed to investigate information they received “that Richard Jacklin engaged in sexual conduct with individuals and that Richard Jacklin engaged in nonconsensual sexual conduct with defenseless individuals.”
During Jacklin’s bond hearing on Nov. 2, 2017, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe said Jacklin told investigators this was not the first time he had sexual encounters with the victim. The victim made the same statement to investigators.
Jacklin provided written and verbal confessions to investigators, Rowe said during the hearing.
A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.