Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Judge says convicted priest a 'sexually violent person'

Judge says convicted priest will remain behind bars
Judge: Daniel McCormack a 'sexually violent person'
WGN News

A former Chicago Roman-Catholic priest and convicted sex offender is indeed a sexually-violent person a judge ruled Tuesday.

Tuesday's hearing dealt with the likelihood of whether Daniel McCormack would sexually-abuse more boys if he was released. McCormack will remain behind bars.

McCormack pleaded guilty in 2007 to fondling five boys aged 8 to 12 at St. Agatha's Catholic Church on the Chicago's west side. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Last September, shortly before he was to be paroled, state prosecutors filed to have McCormack sent to a mental health facility under Illinois' Sexually Violent Persons Act. It says that convicted sex offenders can be kept locked up - even after they've served their sentences.

Tuesday's testimony pitted one psychiatrist hired by the Dept. of Corrections against another psychiatrist hired by the Attorney General. Both evaluated McCormack, and both used actuarial instruments that found he had a moderate to high risk of re-offending. But both sides disagreed as to whether he should remain behind bars.

In the end, the judge sided with prosecutors, and parishioners are relieved. "I walked in on him one time, and he's dressing an altar boy," says one St. Agatha parishioner. "It was the farthest thing from my mind that he was molesting the child, but as I look back, we all have 20/20 hindsight. It's so easy to say what could have, should have been done. It wasn't done, but it's being done now."

McCormack's attorneys tried to argue that using isolated clinical judgment to predict his future behavior was no better than leaving it up to chance. No date has been set for the trial by jury, but another hearing in the case is scheduled for March 2.

McCormack's family was in court but left without comment.

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