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Ex Marmion priest faces sex charge

Nina Bernardi and Frank Callahan

GENEVA - A Marmion Abbey priest was indicted Tuesday on charges that he sexually abused a former Marmion Military Academy student.

The Rev. Augustine K. Jones, 71, was indicted by a Kane County grand jury on four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred in November 1990 at St. Therese Catholic Church on Aurora's East Side, according to the indictment. Jones was at the church to say Mass and is not directly affiliated with the parish.

Jones will plead innocent to the charges, said David Camic, attorney for the accused priest.

Jones is a Benedictine priest at the Marmion Abbey, which is affiliated with the all-boys Catholic military high school. Marmion Abbey is located on the Butterfield Road campus of Marmion Military Academy in unincorporated Kane County.

Incident after church

The Aurora youth involved, who at the time of the alleged incident was 15 years old, went to speak with Jones in the St. Therese sacristy following a service at the church, according to Aurora Police Sgt. Greg Anderson.

After some conversation, the priest made sexual advances toward the boy, Anderson reported. Jones touched the boy's genitals and placed the boy's hand on his genitals, according to the indictment.

Prior to making the alleged sexual advances, Jones questioned the boy about how often he masturbated, sources close to the investigation said.

The boy subsequently told another priest about the incident while making his confession at Marmion, sources said. Marmion officials arranged for the boy to receive counseling and sent Jones "away," sources said.

But the former student, now 18, saw Jones again this year at Marmion shortly before he graduated from the school and decided to come forward to authorities, sources said.

Boy feared retribution

The boy told investigators he did not report the incident to police earlier because he feared retribution while he was a student at Marmion, Anderson said.

It is uncertain at this time whether additional charges will be forthcoming.

"The investigation is continuing," said John Barsanti, chief of the criminal division for the Kane County state's attorney's office.

"(The victim) knows of nobody else that was approached by the priest," Anderson said.

Aurora police slated an 8:30 p.m. press conference to discuss the case Tuesday. But reporters arrived only to discover that Chief David Stover had cancelled it.

"All I can say is that the priest is under investigation," said Lt. John Perkins as he greeted reporters outside the police station.

Investigators say the case will not entirely be the boy's word against that of Jones.

"There are other people that somewhat corroborate what the victim said," Anderson said.

Although two acton's were involved, Jones is charged with four counts of sexual abuse because he held a position of authority and was considerably older than the victim, Barsanti said.

Jones is a former teacher at Marmion, but has not taught classes there since 1967, said the Rev. Charles Reichenbaher, director of public relations for the Marmion Abbey.

Jones has been at Marmion for "all of his priesthood," Reichenbacher said. He now belongs to Marmion Abbey, but he no longer lives there, he said, declining to say where the priest lives now.

Citing Jones' right to privacy, Reichenbacher would not comment on whether the accused priest has been suspended from his duties at the abbey. Reichenbacher also would not comment on whether Marmion officials had sought counseling for Jones or his accuser.

"We at the abbey have heard that there is an allegation against our Father Augustine Jones," Reichenbacher said. "We have not seen the claim. Our attorney is evaluating the alleged claim. Because we have not seen the claim, we cannot comment any more."

Jones is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 26.

About 350 students attend Marmion Military Academy. It is a residential and day school with a long tradition.

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