Sunday, September 28, 2008

Priest Counsels Couple, Courts Wife

A west suburban man is suing a former Catholic priest for allegedly providing marriage counseling to the man and his estranged wife, then quitting the church and moving in with the wife.

Stephen Crane of Elmhurst filed the lawsuit Thursday in Will County Circuit Court against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet and Christopher Floss, a former priest at the Elmhurst Visitation Parish.

The suit seeks damages relating to his divorce and the breakup of the family. Crane accuses Floss of professional negligence, infliction of emotional distress and alienation of affection. The church is charged with negligent supervision and retention of the priest.

According to the suit, Stephen and Maureen Crane sought marriage counseling from Floss in the spring of 2006 at the church rectory. But in October 2006, at Floss' suggestion, Maureen Crane began individual counseling with Floss, both at the church and in the family home, the suit claims.

Those sessions occurred almost daily, and Floss also began e-mailing Maureen Crane regularly, the suit claims.

In December 2006, the church choir arranged a pilgrimage to Rome, and Floss advised the couple to take the trip, where he would renew their marriage vows, the suit claims. However, in Rome in January 2007, Maureen Crane asked her husband for a divorce.

The suit claims that upon his return home, Stephen Crane was advised by his daughter that her mother had said she was in love with Floss, but it was supposed to be a secret, the suit claims.

Others in the parish notified of the affair told Stephen Crane they were not surprised to learn of the inappropriate relationship.

The suit claims that later in January 2007, Floss left the priesthood, and in February 2007, Maureen Crane left the family home to move in with Floss at a residence in Woodridge.

Stephen Crane assumed residential custody of the children, and as a result had to leave his full-time job with America Online and has only been able to work part-time since, the suit alleges.

The suit, which is also filed on behalf of the three children, claims Stephen Crane and his children suffered severe and permanent injuries, suffered great pain and anguish, were forced to spend money for psychological expenses, and he is hindered from working full-time, causing great economic harm.

It seeks an amount in excess of $50,000 for each of 13 counts.

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(Source: NBC5)

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