“They’re not practicing Catholics, they’re practicing predators.” This is how “Marco” describes Father John Beatty and other abusers in the Catholic church. In 1955, Marco was 16 years old and Beatty’s student at Saint Patrick Central High School in Kankakee. Beatty came to Marco’s home one evening to watch television. As they sat alone in the living room, Beatty slowly moved his hand up Marco’s leg, unzipped his pants, and fondled his genitals. Several months later, Marco told his mother what had happened because he was worried Beatty would also abuse his younger brother. Marco’s parents reported the abuse to Father John Burke, who was Beatty’s superior in the Clerics of Saint Viator religious order. Tragically, Burke also sexually abused children, and there is no evidence he took any action to prevent Beatty from continuing to prey on young boys. Marco was devastated when Beatty was simply transferred to another parish.
In Marco’s young mind, reporting Beatty’s abuse to his parents was all he could do. He had no “other conception of how to expose it.” When Burke failed Marco and his parents by declining to take action, Marco felt it would be pointless to tell anyone else in the church about Beatty’s abuse. He did not speak of it beyond close family and friends until September 2018, when he shared his experience with the Attorney General’s investigators.
Because the church failed to act on Marco’s report, Beatty continued to use his position to prey on children. He abused another one of his students at Saint Patrick in the early 1960s, according to a report the Diocese of Joliet and the Viatorians received in 2004. The Viatorians found this claim credible, but neither the diocese nor the religious order publicly disclosed Beatty as a credibly accused child sex abuser at the time. The Attorney General’s investigators pressed the Diocese of Joliet to add Beatty to its own list given the Viatorians’ credibility finding and the Diocese of San Diego’s separate disclosure of Beatty as a credibly accused priest in September 2018. Eventually, in February 2021, the diocese relented. Finally seeing Beatty’s name on the Diocese of Joliet’s list made Marco feel “satisfied that he was exposed” as an abuser.