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Chicago archdiocese reinstates priest after investigating TikTok allegation

Priest collar iweta0077/Shutterstock

The Archdiocese of Chicago has reinstated a pastor who was accused of attempted sexual assault, after failing to substantiate the accusation. 

Fr. Larry Sullivan, the pastor of Christ the King parish in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, stepped aside from ministry in April after a woman accused him of attacking her and attempting to sexually assault her in 1984, just before he entered seminary. The woman’s accusation was posted on the app TikTok. 

Sullivan said that after the video surfaced, he forwarded it to the archdiocese which began an investigation. The archdiocese said it also reported the accusation to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County State’s Attorney.

On May 14, Cardinal Blase Cupich issued a letter to the Christ the King parish and school communities, saying that the archdiocese would be reinstating Sullivan as they could not substantiate the accusation made against him. 

“A thorough review of this matter by the Archdiocesan Office of Child Abuse Investigations and Review and an outside investigator, including multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from the accuser, concludes that the accusation against him, which was alleged to have occurred prior to his entering the seminary, cannot be substantiated,” said Cupich.  “Therefore, I am reinstating Father Sullivan as your Pastor effective immediately.”

The letter was also posted online and sent to employees of the archdiocese. 

Cupich stated that Sullivan “fully cooperated” with the investigation, and that “He has steadfastly reaffirmed the imperative for us as a Church to keep the protection and safety of our children as our priority.”

Cardinal Cupich said that it is imperative that Sullivan’s reputation be restored. 

“It is important to note that our policies also call us to do everything possible to restore the good name of priests when the process has determined allegations cannot be substantiated. This, too, is a matter of justice,” said Cupich. “Therefore, out of regard for Father Sullivan and all our priests, I resolve to see his good name restored.”

Back in April, Sullivan stated in a letter to his parishioners that he did remember the night referenced by the woman in the TikTok video. The woman had claimed that, while she was working at a restaurant one night in 1984, two men followed her outside into an alley and attacked her with the intent of sexually assaulting her. 

“I fought them off, the police were called, my parents came [and] we found out that one of them was leaving for seminary the next day to become a Catholic priest,” the woman said, as reported by ABC 7 Chicago.

Sullivan, who said he was 18 years old at the time and on the eve of entering seminary, admitted to making “unwelcome verbal comments” to a female employee at a fast food restaurant that night. He said that police were contacted, but he denied making any physical contact or attempted assault on the woman.

“There was no physical interaction between me and the young woman,” he said. “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 pray that my accuser accepts my sincere apology and that it provides her with healing.”

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