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Woman Says Priest Made Her Abort His Child

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - While counseling her for problems in her marriage, a priest coerced a parishioner into having sex, got her pregnant, and then made her have an abortion, the woman claims in Madison County Court. The woman says the Rev. Thomas R. Szydlik began pursuing her after hearing her confession in a Peoria church in 2004.

She says Szydlik moved to Edwardsville to continue the relationship after she and her husband moved to Madison County in 2006. She claims Szydlik forced her to have nonconsensual sex on April 2, 2006, which impregnated her, and that she had an abortion in July at Szydlik's insistence.

Catholics "are taught to view priests as another Christ and to hold them in the highest esteem as God's representatives on Earth," the suit states. The woman claims Szydlik used this to persuade her that what he said and did was excused because he was saving her soul.

She seeks damages of $50,000 or more on each of 23 counts. She is represented by David Leffers of Jacksonville, Ill.

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