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Chicago-area diocese agrees $1.4M settlement in priest abuse

JOLIET, Ill. — A suburban Chicago Catholic diocese has agreed to a $1.4 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by three men who say they were molested by their priest when they were boys.

The three men who don’t want to be identified say they were abused by Father Leonard Mateo of Joliet between 1980 and 1982. The boys were all under 11 years.

They publicly accused Mateo in 2014.

Attorneys for the three say Bishop Joseph Imesch reported in a deposition that priests with credible sexual abuse allegations were allowed to continue ministry within the Diocese of Joliet without any warning to parishioners.

Mateo left the diocese in 1984 and died in 2004. Imesch died in 2015.

The settlement reached in Will County Circuit Court will be distributed among the plaintiffs.