APNewsBreak: Priest who abused child still working with kids

Source: Associated Press

By MICHAEL TARM

CHICAGO (AP) — The Claretians Roman Catholic order has settled a lawsuit from a man sexually abused as a 6-year-old by a teenager who later became a prominent priest in Chicago, confirming in the settlement obtained by The Associated Press that the longtime cleric recently left the priesthood.

But Bruce Wellems, 60, still works as executive director of a non-profit that offers youth mentoring, alternative schooling and other programs for children, according to a staff list at the Peace and Education Coalition. Its head office is also located in the same southwest side Chicago church where he served as priest for two decades.

The settlement was signed in May and not released publicly. It does not say exactly when Wellems asked to be released from the priesthood but it would have been since the lawsuit was filed in September.

The Chicago-based Claretians did not agree to one request of the now 52-year-old victim, Eric Johnson, that the order release records of all its priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, as several other Catholic orders have done.

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