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Winfield pastor files lawsuit against accuser in 2006 abuse case
By Dann Gire | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/30/2010 6:51 PM | Updated: 1/30/201 6:52 PM

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The attorney for a Winfield pastor accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy said Saturday that a Cook County lawsuit filed Friday is not about greed, but clearing the accused man's name and restoring his respect in the community.

"My god, the man was terribly depressed," Chicago attorney Walter Maksym said Saturday about his client, the Rev. Chester Przybylo, 59, pastor of the Shrine of Christ the King church in Winfield.

"When you're innocent and there's somebody accusing you," Maksym said, "he was depressed. He was physically ill. He's had all kinds of physical problems because of this. He's had vandalism to his home and car. People walking across the street spitting at him."

Maksym said that Przybylo is suing his accusers for defamation and malicious prosecution in connection with a two-decades-old case.

In 2006, a grown-up Polish immigrant accused Przybylo of abusing him from 1987 through 1992 in a friend's apartment and in the rectory of Five Holy Martyrs Church in Chicago when the accuser was a teenager.

He filed a suit, naming Przybylo and the Chicago Archdiocese as defendants, even though the Shrine is an independent church not under the jurisdiction of the archdiocese.

In December 2008, the Catholic Archdiocese announced it had reached a settlement in the case by paying the accuser $1.4 million, even though Przybylo was never criminally charged.

Last month, the case took a spin after Maksym pressed to have the suit dismissed based on an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that tightened the amount of time in which people can file sexual abuse lawsuits. The case against Przybylo was dropped.

"He's very relieved," Maksym said about his client. "Normally, he forgives his accuser. The problem is that his accuser has $1.4 million that the church gave to him, and he (Przybylo) doesn't think he should have that money for a false accusation. He wants to get it back and put it to good works. It's not greed. It's about getting the money the church has wasted on bogus claims."

Przybylo's suit contains 11 counts against the original accuser, his attorneys, and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). It asks for a minimum of $50,000 per count, Maksym said.

Maksym said that the archdiocese's practice of "bundling" several abuse cases together for quick resolution means that innocent priests do not get their day in court.

In Przybylo's case, "they decided to go ahead and pay $1.4. It had nothing to do with the merits of the case," Maksym said. "It was all about buying silence at any cost."

If Przybylo was awarded money in the case, he would give it back to the people who fund the church every Sunday _ churchgoers, Maksym.

Calls to the office of SNAP and plaintiff's attorney Jeff Anderson were not returned by deadline.