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Priest reinstated after allegations of abuse

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By Katie Kormann

Joliet, IL (WGN) — A Joliet area priest removed from ministry over a sexual abuse allegation has been reinstated.

Reverend F. Lee Ryan allegedly had a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy in the 1970s. The now-52-year-old accuser said he and Ryan had a relationship for more than a year.

The man confided in Ryan that he was gay, and things turned sexual as the two became closer. He believed they were dating.

The accuser said he did not tell anyone at the time, and it was only two years ago that he told his mother about his relationship with the family’s priest.

His mother spoke to a victims advocate who arranged for him to submit a complaint to the church.

The Vatican cited Canon No. 2359 in the 1917 Code of Canon Law to explain why the priest was not found guilty of violating church law. The code states that a cleric who violates the commandment forbidding adultery, by indecently touching a person under the age of 16, has committed a canonical crime.

The church law was amended in 1994 to change the age of consent from 16 to 18-years-old to mirror civil law. Since the accuser said the contact took place before age 16, it is unclear as to why the action does not violate church law.

Beginning this weekend, Ryan will minister to homebound parishioners of St. Edmund Catholic Church in Watseka and St. Joseph Mission in Crescent City.

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