Illinois priest accused of child sex abuse has gone missing

CHICAGO (AP) – A church official says an Illinois priest under criminal investigation for sexual abuse has gone “absent without leave” from his Augustinian order.

Sister Mary Ann Hamer is assistant treasurer for the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel. She said Friday that the Rev. Richard McGrath moved out of the St. John Stone Friary in Chicago sometime in the last couple of months on his own accord.

The 72-year-old McGrath was removed from public ministry in 2017 and assigned to the friary while police investigated “potentially inappropriate material” on his cellphone. The investigation closed after McGrath refused to turn in his phone.

Another investigation opened in January into allegations that McGrath sexually abused a student in the 1990s.

McGrath’s attorney says he moved because he felt like a liability. He says McGrath believes he’s done nothing wrong.

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