CHICAGO (CN) - A Catholic priest claims the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests destroyed his reputation by falsely accusing him of being a pedophile. Chester Pryzbylo says he was falsely accused, in a "meritless" and "time-barred" lawsuit in 2006, of sexually abusing a young Polish immigrant from 1987 until 1992.
Pryzbylo's attorney said the accuser, Peter Galica, now in his 30's, did not file within the statute of limitations and the case was dismissed, but the Chicago Archdiocese settled with Galica for almost $1.4 million.
Pryzbylo, 59, claims in Cook County Court that Galica's lawyers and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) maliciously conducted a "media sneak-attack" against him during the trial.
Pryzbylo, now pastor of the King Shrine Christ Shrine in Winfield, says he suffered "embarrassment and great harm to his dignity" when the co-conspirators broadcast highlights of the complaint through major media outlets, including the Chicago Sun-Times, radio stations and Internet sites.
During a humiliating "prearranged press interview" across the street from the parish where Pryzbylo has lived and worked for 10 years, Galica told WLS-TV reporters, "He abused me for a very long time, sexually," and that Pryzbylo "betrayed his trust and threatened to deport his family if he told about the molestation," according to the complaint.
Pryzbylo says that during that defamatory interview, which would be broadcast on ABC7 News, SNAP President Barbara Blaine warned that there are "children right here in this neighborhood who live in these houses. I question if their parents have been notified. My suspicion is that they haven't been."
One of his accusers called Pryzbylo "Chester the Molester," the Herald News reported, and during the late 1980's a boy was scolded for telling Bishop Leo Abramowicz "that Pryzbylo was hurting young children," according to the complaint.
Pryzbylo says the lawyers and advocacy group are responsible for his "wrongfully gaining a reputation as a child sex molester" because they failed to properly investigate the allegations.
Apparently "disgruntled" at the dismissal of the lawsuit, Galica's lawyer "lashed out" at Pryzbylo by "repeating the same, similar and additional false and defamatory to the press, as reported by the Associated Press on or about December 19, 2009, that Fr. Pryzbylo abused a young teenage boy," according to the complaint.
Pryzbylo says that Galica's lawyers, Jeff Anderson & Associates, keep fictitious aspects of the complaint posted on its Web site including: "the lawsuit filed by [Galica] alleges that Pryzbylo molested him at the parish rectory, the Chicago Health Club, and the River City Apartment complex and further insinuated that he sodomized a different teenager, hit seven other children, is paranoid and crazy, that there were innuendos of homosexuality, tried to proposition a priest, was referred to refer to and known as 'Chester the Molester' by the police officers in the neighborhood.'"
Pryzbylo says that the Department of Child and Family Services determined the "reports of child abuse by him were unfounded."
Pryzbylo seeks punitive damages for defamation, conspiracy and false light. He is represented by Walter Maksym.
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