Family struggles with clergy sex abuse

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Date Published: 10/17/2007
John and Monica Iliff in their Bloomington home with photos of their son. Monica is wearing a locket with a photo of Eric.
John and Monica Iliff in their Bloomington home with photos of their son. Monica is wearing a locket with a photo of Eric.

When you think of clergy sexual abuse, people often think of older adults and young children. However, a couple from Bloomington says their son would have been 26 last week, but Eric Iliff never made it because he said he was abused at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York. They say the scars he suffered never healed.

Eric took his own life at a Normal hotel last March, surrounded by family photos and a Bible. His parents consider that a sign that he never lost faith.

Administrators removed Father Timothy Blumentritt from his position once Eric told them he was abused. He was later defrocked by the Church.

However, Eric struggled with the fact he signed an agreement that never acknowledged publicly what happened to him.

Monica Iliff says family and friends questioned how it could happen.

John Iliff says they knew Eric was depressed, but he wishes they had probed deeper, sooner. He says now it’s like living a bad Lifetime movie.

The Iliffs are considering whether to refile a lawsuit that was dismissed because a judge ruled it can be resubmitted. St. Vladimir’s Chancellor, Father Chad Hatfield, would not comment on the abuse but said those at the seminary continue to pray for Eric and his family.