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Former Geneva priest up for parole
Campobello spent nearly 3½ years at prison southwest of Peoria
By Adam Kovac | Daily Herald Staff

Mark Campobello

 

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Published: 2/13/2008 12:17 AM

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Mark Campobello, the ex-Geneva priest who thrust Kane County into abuse scandals plaguing the Catholic church when he was accused of molesting two teenaged girls, is eligible for parole from a state prison today.

Campobello, 43, likely will be released on schedule from the Illinois River Correctional Center near Canton, where he has spent roughly the past 3½ years, said Derek Schnapp, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections.

In May 2004, Campobello acknowledged he abused the girls in 1999 and 2000, but his guilty plea did not end controversy over the allegations, which fractured St. Peter Catholic Church in Geneva and sparked a legal battle with the Rockford Diocese.

Schnapp declined to give specifics on how or when the Crystal Lake native will exit the prison southwest of Peoria.

The terms of his parole require Campobello to register as a sex offender within about a week.

"I would expect Mr. Campobello would want to put this behind him," his former attorney, Paul Gaziano, said earlier this month, adding he has had little contact with Campobello since he went to prison.

A spokeswoman from St. Peter and the Rockford Diocese did not immediately returns calls for comment.

In late 2002, Campobello was arrested in Belvidere and charged with five counts each of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault, accusing him of acts with a 14-year-old student at St. Peter Elementary School.

Other charges were filed in late 2003, after a second girl came forward and accused him of improperly touching her when she was 16 and 17 and a student at Aurora Central Catholic School. Campobello was an administrator at the school.

The Vatican expelled Campobello from the priesthood while he was in prison.

The Rockford Diocese later apologized to the two victims, now adults, and paid more than $2 million to settle lawsuits that held church leaders responsible for Campobello's actions.