Chicago’s Sun-Times reports that Rev. Bede Jagoe, a 79-year-old priest who was accused of grabbing a man’s groin in a chapel at Chicago’s south side Midway Airport and kissing and grabbing him in the elevator, was found not guilty of sexual abuse Monday after a bench trial.
The victim alleged Jagoe inappropriately touched and kissed him while he was visiting the chapel at MDW during a layover to reflect on the death of a friend.
Cook County Judge Nicholas Ford found Jagoe not guilty after a one-day bench trial which included the testimony of the victim, a man from Kansas City. To add to courtroom dynamics, defendant Jagoe appeared for his trial confined to a stretcher due to his being in poor health.
According to the Sun-Times’ report, the victim testified that Jagoe touched his groin an initial time in the airport chapel and later “came up to [him] and grabbed [his] groin . . . and kissed [him] on the mouth.”
Judge Ford noted reasonable doubt in his ruling stemming from the victim’s delay in reporting the incident to law enforcement, as he did not report the alleged contacts until he reached is final destination of Kansas City and emotionally detailed to his wife what he had experienced at MDW.
Furthermore, the video evidence “aired in court showed the men hugging and briefly holding hands in the chapel after the priest allegedly touched his groin. Video footage also showed the man chatting with Jagoe and following him into an elevator after leaving the chapel,” according to the Sun-Times. This seemed to further lead the judge to question the totality of the events between the two.
Rev. Jagoe, now cleared of felony charges from the December 2011 incident, reportedly has or will be reinstated to the Dominican Friars Central Province, but it was unclear if he will be reassigned to the same or similar limited service at MDW or otherwise. He was previously removed immediately after charges were filed, per the Order’s policy.