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Man accuses priest of sexual abuse

34-year-old's lawsuit claims he was molested as a child

DAILY SOUTHTOWN - Tuesday, December 22, 1998

A Vernon Hills man filed a lawsuit Monday accusing a former Park Forest priest of molesting him as a teenager.

James Komp, 34, was an altar boy at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Park Forest when the abuse allegedly occurred between March and June 1980.

The accused priest, the Rev. Richard Ruffalo, died in February 1997.

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court charges the Diocese of Joliet, Bishop Joseph Imesch and St. Mary's Church with not protecting Komp and not taking steps to prevent the abuse. The suit says the sexual abuse caused Komp problems with drugs, alcohol and gambling, as well as severe emotional problems.

Komp learned the effects of the alleged abuse after starting therapy in February 1997, said his lawyer, JOSEPH KLEST. Komp previously had undergone drug and alcohol counseling but never mentioned the sexual abuse, Klest said.

"He recalled the abuse," Klest said, "He just didn't know that it caused his problems until someone who was a trained professional (psychologist) told him."

Joliet Diocese officials declined to comment on the lawsuit but expressed concern about Komp's welfare.