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Man sues priest, claiming affair with wife
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/27/2008 12:08 AM

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Stephen Crane and his wife, Maureen, accompanied their Elmhurst church choir on a pilgrimage to Rome in January 2007.

Despite recent marital woes, Crane thought the couple would renew their vows in Italy. Instead, his wife of nearly 10 years told him she wanted a divorce.

The Elmhurst man filed a lawsuit this week alleging his former priest, Christopher Floss, who later left the church, caused the divorce by having an affair with his wife while he served as their marital counselor.

The jilted husband's lawyers filed the suit in Will County, naming Floss and the Joliet Diocese as defendants. Besides emotional harm, the suit alleges Crane suffered economic loss by having to quit his full-time job to care for the former couple's three children, ages 18, 16, and 8.

Crane, 52, is seeking at least $450,000 in damages.

According to the lawsuit, the couple began seeing Floss for marital counseling in spring 2006 at Elmhurst Visitation Parish. In October, Floss suggested one-on-one sessions with Maureen Crane, the suit alleges, and their meetings increased in frequency by November to include e-mails and daily sessions in the church rectory and the parishioners' home.

Stephen Crane said in the lawsuit that it actually was Floss' idea to renew the couple's marital vows in Italy. Instead, in January 2007 while in Rome, Maureen Crane asked for a divorce.

It was one of the couple's children who told Stephen Crane about the affair, the suit alleges, but the teen said it was supposed to be a "secret." He immediately informed church officials, who did not seem surprised, Crane said in the suit.

He alleges the affair began in November 2006 and lasted through his divorce, which was finalized in DuPage County in June 2007.

The lawsuit states Floss left the priesthood in January 2007 and still lives with Maureen Crane, 44, in Woodridge.

One of the plaintiff's attorneys, Phillip Taxman, said "a tremendous injustice," was committed against Crane due to Floss' inappropriate actions. Taxman said the diocese also should be held legally accountable because it was negligent in its supervision of Floss. "Mr. Crane is unable to work on a full-time basis," Taxman said in a statement. "He has suffered tremendous economic harm."

The suit alleges professional negligence, negligent supervision and retention, negligent infliction of emotional distress, alienation of affection, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Floss could not be reached Friday. A diocese spokesman was reviewing the lawsuit, and had no immediate comment.