I-TEAM: Sins of the Church


Chatham, Ill (WAND) – A Lutheran pastor says men who abused him in his teens as a member of the Catholic Church are now living in Chatham in Sangamon County.

Mark Powell joined the Franciscan Brothers of Christ the King in 1977 at the age of 17.  Powell and Don Davidson, then 18, described sexual abuse at the hands of the men 41 years ago. 

“This was truly a cult like environment,” Powell told I-TEAM reporter Doug Wolfe.  “Francis Skube abused me when I was a minor.”

Skube is named on a “list of credible allegations against priests and brothers” issued by the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa.  The I-TEAM has learned Skube is now living in a home in Chatham.

While members of the Franciscan Brothers Powell and Davidson were prohibited from contacting others without monitoring from Skube and other brothers.  An apparent effort to keep the abuse from being made public.

Powell says he graduated from high school in Illinois early and joined the Franciscan Brothers because he wanted to serve god.  Davidson joined on his 18th birthday.  The abuse started shortly after he joined the order based in Davenport in the Quad Cities.

“Brother Francis, then in a car trip in Illinois and then several times at the monastery itself,” Powell said of the locations where the abuse was taking place.

The abuse continued for months until the fall of 1977.  Powell says able to call Bishop Gerald Francis O’Keefe.  Powell told the Bishop he wanted to become a priest in his effort to get away from the Franciscan Brothers.  Bishop O’Keefe (now deceased) agreed to allow him to become a priest if Skube would agree to it.

Powell met with Skube not realizing O’Keefe had notified him of the call.  Skube asked Powell what would happen if he did not agree to allowing Powell to become a priest. 

“I said, well brother I guess I’m going to have to tell Bishop O’Keefe that you’ve been abusing me,” Powell related to WAND News.  “And not only abusing me but abusing brother Don.  And as soon as I said those words Brother Daniel (Embrick) comes out of the closet and yells, let’s kill him.”

At that point Powell fled the monastery and went to the mansion of Bishop O’Keefe.  Skube arrived a short time later as did Davidson. 

The bishop agreed to let Powell study to become a priest.  But O’Keefe had one request.  Don’t tell anyone about the abuse.

“It really put a damper on my ability to heal because if someone is abused and are surviving from that abuse, they have to talk about it,” Powell stated.  Davidson also left the order the next day.

The I-TEAM located Skube and spotted him, and a man we believe to be Embrick, as they left the driveway of the home in Chatham.

“We’re not going to answer any of that crap,” Embrick said.  “We went through this with him.  He’s got all kinds of trouble.”

“He’s as crazy as can be,” Skube said of Powell.

Powell and Davidson both received financial payments from the Diocese of Davenport which filed for bankruptcy after a series of other abuse cases became public. 

The Diocese of Springfield told WAND News the Franciscan Brothers of Christ the King are not affiliated with it or a Catholic parish which is just block from Skube’s Chatham residence.

The Franciscan Brothers lost their affiliation with the Catholic Church in 2003.

Powell eventually left the Catholic Church and is now a Lutheran pastor ministering to hospice patients.


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