Fr. Philip DeRea – Archdiocese of Washington

| Jun 4, 2019 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Philip DeReam, MSC

Archdiocese of Washington

Ordained: 1968

Removed: 2011

Died: 2017

Assigned as follows:

  • USA Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (Aurora, Illinois)
  • Cambridge, OH, State Hospital
  • Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (Colombia)
  • Sacred Heart Hospital (Allentown, PA)
  • Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Church (Rome, Italy)
  • INDYCAR Ministry (Indianapolis, IN)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Philip DeRea:

According to media reports, in April 2011, a civil lawsuit was filed in Chicago accusing Father Philip DeRea of sexually abusing a boy over an eight-year period in the 1980’s. The lawsuit claimed the abuse started when when he was an eleven-year old altar boy in Washington, D.C., where both they had both lived just blocks from each other.

According to the lawsuit, Father DeRea was accused of repeatedly sodomizing the plaintiff and performing “other depraved acts.” It claimed Father DeRea gave the plaintiff liquor and pornography, “consorted with a gay stripper” in the child’s presence, and talked openly with him “about gay dance clubs (and) sex with men, some of whom were staff members, and his use of gay escort services.”

According to the suit, Father DeRea assured the plaintiff of the “special nature” of their friendship and “repeatedly instructed him not to tell anyone.” The suit also said that Father DeRea “had sexual encounters with one or more other boys during the mid-1980s and had “received treatment for pedophilia” in the past.

Father DeRea, known as the “Race Track Reverend,” was identified in the suit as a “semi-celebrity priest” who had been the Catholic chaplain for the Indy Racing League since 1971, and an associate of many celebrities including Mario Andretti and Paul Newman. The complaint alleges Father DeRea groomed the plaintiff to create an emotional bond and used his association with the celebrity and racing world to make the plaintiff feel honored to have a connection with him.

According to the lawsuit, the year before in June 2010, the plaintiff sent an email to Father DeRea with the subject line “Why did you hurt me?” Father DeRea responded within an hour acknowledging the abuse and apologizing, according to the lawsuit.  He purportedly stated “…I did you and your family a great injustice and am sorry for my weakness and sinfulness. I was horribly weak and out of control. … I have been agonizing over this for years.”

Father DeRea asked the plaintiff to execute a release of all claims against him for a one-time payment of $35,000 as hush money.

The lawsuit sought damages in excess of $75,000 and a permanent injunction barring Father DeRea from contact with children.  Also named in the lawsuit is the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, in Aurora, Illinois. It says nuns and other members of the group were at Father DeRea’s home when he took the plaintiff upstairs to his locked room, and were aware of, or should have known of, Father DeRea’s behavior which included sexual relationships with other church members.

In March 2016, a settlement was reached for an undisclosed amount.

DeRea died in June 2017.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Washington.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Washington, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Washington now have legal options to recover damages due to a compensation fund created for victims. Call us at 888-283-9922 or send an email to [email protected] to discuss your options today.