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Survivor Narratives

William L. Lupo

Father William Lupo manipulated and sexually abused girls and young women during the 1970s and 1980s across parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago. He exploited his status as a spiritual guide, and abused his position of trust, to expose his naked body and engage in inappropriate physical contact with young girls, including kissing, prolonged hugging, rubbing of genitals, and in one case, sexual intercourse.

Survivors recall receiving inappropriate letters from Lupo when they were teen girls in his parish. Lupo would sign off with “I love you” and sometimes talk about sex. He also would hug them for 15 to 20 seconds at a time, during which he often groaned, said “I love you,” and rubbed his erect genitalia on their abdomens. Lupo appeared keenly aware of his special status as a spiritual guide—and the access it granted him to young girls’ and women’s bodies as they came to him for counseling.

Despite many opportunities, including more than a decade of allegations, repeated consideration by its review board, repeated substantiations of sexual misconduct, and ongoing monitoring arrangements, the archdiocese did not treat Lupo as the predator he was. In fact, the archdiocese repeatedly declined to remove Lupo from service. Instead, he was assigned to parish after parish. Following his resignation in 2002, more than 20 years after he began manipulating and abusing young girls in the church, the archdiocese permitted him to retain his residence in the rectory for several months.

The archdiocese received some of the earliest allegations of sexual misconduct by Lupo in April 1993, when he was the pastor at Saint Peter Damian in Bartlett. Two sisters and their mother contacted the archdiocese to report that Lupo had abused the girls in the mid-1980s when he was assigned to Saint Mary in Des Plaines. The abuse took place when the girls were approximately 12 to 17 years old and, among other things, consisted of Lupo exposing himself. At the time, the archdiocese was aware of additional allegations of “passionate kissing and hugging over approximately six years with at least 3 teenage girls.”

Lupo appeared keenly aware of his special status as a spiritual guide—and the access it granted him to young girls’ and women’s bodies as they came to him for counseling.

The review board considered Lupo’s case later that same month and determined “there is reasonable cause to suspect that [Lupo] engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor.” It noted the consistency in the allegations and Lupo’s “acknowledgement of naked exposure of body to one of the teenage girls at the time.” But rather than removal from ministry, the review board merely recommended a live-in monitor and restrictions to ensure Lupo was not alone with children outside of the presence of a responsible adult. Even so, Lupo continued to require teenage girls to meet with him alone in the rectory, ostensibly in preparation for confirmation. Despite becoming aware of this, the board reiterated its recommendations in a subsequent review.

Less than a year later, in May 1994, Lupo wrote the review board requesting it take yet another look at his case. He hoped it would result in the lifting of his restrictions and the closing of his file. Within a month, however, another woman contacted the archdiocese in June 1994 with a report of abuse at Lupo’s hands. This woman reported that the abuse occurred over a period of two years when she was a sophomore and junior in high school and Lupo was assigned to Saint Mary. The abuse consisted of hugging and kissing, as well as Lupo asking the girl to touch his genitals.

The review board found these allegations “seemingly credible.” But the board concluded it still was reasonable to allow Lupo to remain in ministry with monitoring. And this despite the fact that Lupo adopted a victim posture during these proceedings, stating that the allegations “really aggravate[d]” him and that it was “unfair people can do that to” him. He denigrated the survivor and said he was particularly upset that someone like her “can make these” types of allegations.

Lupo remained incredulous regarding the allegations against him and the monitoring required of him. In 1995, he wrote the review board yet again to request he be released from further monitoring, stating that he had come “to understand how my casual attitude toward touch and embracing could be misconstrued.” The board agreed to discontinue all restrictions and monitoring imposed on Lupo and voiced no objection to his appointment to a second six-year term as pastor of Saint Peter Damian.

In late 1998, however, the review board received another letter from someone alleging Lupo had abused them. It determined to reimpose the “minimum level of the protocol established by the Monitoring Subcommittee” and instructed Lupo to not be alone with children without another responsible adult present. Nevertheless, the review board again concluded it was reasonable to allow Lupo to remain in ministry, despite the accumulation of sexual abuse allegations mounting against him. In fact, Lupo received accolades from Cardinal Francis George, who wrote in one letter: “Bill, I know you have done a wonderful job as pastor of Saint Peter Damian. You can take pride in all that has been accomplished under your leadership.” Cardinal George reappointed Lupo in June 2001 for a third term as pastor of Saint Peter Damian.

Less than five months later, however, an adult woman formalized her allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior against Lupo in October 2001. Lupo denied the sexual intercourse but admitted he was affectionate with her and others. He also admitted kissing her, adding it was “more than a peck on the cheek.” The review board was informed of the allegation, but since the person making the allegation was not a child at the time of the incident, the board determined it did not have jurisdiction to conduct a review.

Lupo remained in ministry until the Dallas Charter was issued in June 2002. In his farewell letter to his parish, he continued to deny the allegations against him and stated that “the stress in going through the juridical process [established by the Dallas Charter] would be more than I would care to chance. . . . I have no other real option than to resign my pastorate and to leave the priesthood.” Lupo was laicized in 2014, the same year he was placed on the archdiocese’s public list of child sex abusers. He passed away in April 2021.

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Terms are defined as provided in the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops Glossary of Catholic Terms, unless denoted with *.

Altar server
Individuals, usually children, who assist clerics during liturgical functions such as mass. Prior to 1994, only men and boys were permitted to be altar servers.*
The title given automatically to bishops who govern archdioceses. It is also given to certain other high-ranking church officials.
The chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province. It is governed by an archbishop.
Auxiliary Bishop
A bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist its residential bishop.
The highest order of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church. The chief priests in their respective dioceses. Bishops are responsible for the pastoral care of their dioceses. All bishops have a responsibility to act in council with other bishops to guide the church.
A man who has taken vows in a religious order but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood. Sometimes he is called a lay brother to distinguish him from ordained members of religious orders.
Canon Law

A code of ecclesiastical laws governing the Catholic Church.

Highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope. Cardinals are regarded as the pope's closest advisors. Most cardinals are archbishops.
The chief archivist of a diocese's official records. Also a notary and secretary of the diocese’s central administration.
Clergy is a collective term referring to all those ordained—bishops, priests, and deacons—who administer the rites of the church. A cleric is an individual member of the clergy. Only men are permitted to join the clergy.
Confession or Reconciliation
The Catholic sacrament in which one makes a voluntary self-accusation of sins to a qualified priest in private in order to obtain absolution. The priest provides the confessor, also known as the penitent, with a penance to atone for sins committed. A priest who hears confession is forbidden from disclosing the contents of a confession to others under what is called the seal of confession.*
The personnel and offices through which (1) the pope administers the affairs of the universal church (the Roman Curia), or (2) a bishop administers the affairs of a diocese (the diocesan curia). The principal officials of a diocesan curia are the vicar general, the chancellor, officials of the diocesan tribunal or court, examiners, consultors, auditors, and notaries.
Dallas Charter
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People sets forth policies for each United States archdiocese and diocese to adopt as part of an effort to address allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. The Charter was formulated at the 2002 meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas, Texas. The Charter was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
One of three groups that comprise the clergy, meaning those ordained for ministry. Only men are permitted to become deacons. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, but only unmarried men committed to lifelong celibacy can be ordained deacons if they are planning to become priests.
Diocesan Priest
Priests under the direction of their local bishop. Most serve in the parishes of the diocese, but they may also be assigned to other diocesan ministries or released for service outside the diocese.
A territorial division of the Church headed by a bishop.
Extern Priest
A priest with faculties to minister in a diocese or archdiocese who was not ordained in that diocese or archdiocese. For example, a diocesan priest from the Diocese of Springfield who has been granted faculties to minister by the Archdiocese of Chicago is an extern priest.*
Church authorization, given by the law itself or by a Church superior, to perform certain official acts.
Members of the Catholic Church. Derived from Catholic teachings that clergy are like shepherds guiding a flock.*
Laicize or Defrock
The process by which a priest is returned to the lay state. It is sometimes used as a penalty for a serious crime, but also can come at the request of the priest. A laicized priest is barred from all priestly ministry with one exception: He may give absolution to someone in immediate danger of death. The pope must approve all requests for laicization. When a priest is laicized without his consent for a crime, such as committing child sexual abuse, it is sometimes called defrocking.
Any activity conducive to the salvation of souls. It can include ordained ministry such as liturgical leadership and administration of the sacraments, or lay ministry such as instructing children in the faith, serving the poor, visiting the sick, or being an altar server, reader, or music leader at mass.
An honorary ecclesiastical title granted by the pope to some diocesan priests.
A member of a religious order of women who has taken solemn or simple vows.
Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop. A cleric who has undergone ordination is known as ordained.*
A specific community within a diocese with its own church building and under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.
A priest in charge of a Catholic parish or congregation.
Acts performed to atone for committed sins, as directed by a priest in the Catholic sacrament of reconcilliation.*
Residential housing for clergy provided by the Church. A rectory can also contain administrative offices for a parish.*
Religious Cleric
Professed member of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders.
Religious Order or Order
An institution of men or women, at least some of whose members take solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and whose male members are sometimes ordained.*
An educational institution for men preparing for the priesthood.
A cleric who acts in the name of another cleric.*
Vicar general
A priest, auxiliary bishop, or coadjutor bishop who assists the diocesan bishop in the governance of the diocese.
Victims Assistance Coordinator

A diocesan employee who has been designated to coordinate assistance to survivors of sex abuse by clerics.*