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Priest on leave while church investigates ‘credible’ abuse allegation

Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune –

A former parish priest at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Naperville has been placed on leave following an accusation that he sexually abused a minor more than two decades ago, according to the Diocese of Joliet.

The diocese has launched an investigation into the Rev. James Nowak, 75, who is retired.

“The review committee discussed it and recommended to the bishop it was credible, so he’s going to have it investigated further by church authorities. And Fr. Nowak has been placed on administrative leave,” diocese spokesman Doug Delaney said Wednesday.

Delaney said the alleged abuse occurred more than 25 years ago, but he would not say where Nowak was serving at the time.

He also said he did not have information as to whether charges have been filed against Nowak.

While on administrative leave, Nowak will not be allowed to say a public Mass or administer sacraments.


From June 2002 to June 2007, Nowak was the pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul. The current pastor, the Rev. Thomas Milota, sent a letter to parishioners Wednesday informing them of the allegations with a “sad and heavy heart.”

He said the alleged abuse did not occur while Nowak was at the Naperville church.

“When an accusation of this sort is made, it immediately causes us to think of the young people who have been entrusted to our care and whom we love,” he wrote. … “Our hearts go out to those who have been so affected. The best thing that we can do whether in explaining or in suffering with them is to walk with them, assure them of our support and love and, if necessary, support them in getting the help they need.”

The diocese has forwarded the case to officials in Rome for review. Nowak could not be reached for comment.

According to a Ss. Peter and Paul bulletin, Nowak celebrated 45 years of ordination in May.

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