COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Disgraced former Catholic priest Daniel McCormack could have to stay behind bars indefinitely after a judge Friday ruled he remains a sexually violent person.
"I have to say Mr. McCormack ... I have no reasonable doubt that you will engage in future acts of sexual violence," Cook County Judge Dennis Porter told McCormack during a hearing to decide whether the man will ever go free.
"I think it is much more likely than not, that without treatment, you will commit further acts of violence."
McCormack now faces a new hearing in November. Following that, he could be held indefinitely at a suburban Rushville facility for sex offenders or allowed a conditional release.
The former priest was convicted in 2007 of molesting five children during his time at St. Agatha Parish in North Lawndale. He was defrocked the same year and sentenced to five years in prison.
Shortly before McCormack was slated to be paroled in 2009, state prosecutors filed a petition seeking to imprison McCormack indefinitely under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act — which allows authorities to detain convicted sex offenders under the assumption they will strike again if free.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan previously called the law "the closest thing we have to a crystal ball when it comes to determining whether an offender will attack again."
For the last eight years, McCormack has been detained in Rushville as he awaited a decision on the state's 2009 petition.
A three-day bench trial began Wednesday inside the Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 2650 S. California Ave.
Dr. Angeline Stanislaus, a forensic psychiatrist, testified Wednesday that she believes McCormack has pedophilic disorder and "no ability to control himself" around children to whom he is sexually attracted.
She pointed out that McCormack, now 48, routinely inflicted similar patterns of sexual abuse on boys ages 8 to 11 from at least 2001 to 2006 while working as a priest, teacher and basketball coach on the West Side.
Pedophilic disorder is "a disorder that doesn't go away," state prosecutor Mary Lacy said during her closing arguments Friday. "He's not going to stop when he's 50 or 54 or 58. It's not going away."
Defense attorney Matthew Daniels argued that while McCormack may be sexually attracted to children, he's not likely to continue hurting kids if released because he'll be required to register as a sex offender following his 2007 convictions.
"Mr. McCormack is no longer a priest," Daniels said. "He is no longer in that position of power and control over young children. He's a convicted felon. He can't teach as a convicted felon. ... The criminal-justice system is always going to be hanging over [him] for the rest of his life."
Porter ultimately decided that McCormack has "self-regulation problems" and "a preoccupation with sex" that could lead to future crimes.
To date, more than 400 convicted sex offenders have been committed to state custody under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, according to Madigan's office.
The Archdiocese of Chicago has paid millions of dollars in settlements to McCormack's alleged victims.