Sleeping priest, 80, severely beaten in Chicago rectory

The Rev. Daniel Mallette
St. Margaret of Scotland Church/CBS Chicago

(CBS CHICAGO) - Two men accosted a sleeping 80-year-old Roman Catholic priest in his Chicago South Side rectory and brutally beat him.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is a parishioner at the church, and was with the Rev. Dan Mallette the attack early Tuesday morning. He said Mallette was the victim of "a vicious, vicious assault," according to CBS Chicago.

Police say shortly before 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, the suspects broke into the rectory at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, and found Rev. Mallette asleep.

"He was completely taken by surprise," Sheriff Dart said. "He was sound asleep in his bed, and was awoken by two people standing there demanding money and threatening to kill him."

Dart says Mallette suffered broken ribs and facial injuries in the assault, reported CBS Chicago.

Mallette had returned to the rectory later Tuesday after being treated and released from the hospital.

Longtime friend and parishioner William Harris said Mallette "is in a lot of pain - a couple of broken ribs, stitches, black eyes - he was beaten pretty badly."

Mallette married Sheriff Dart and his wife, baptized his kids and conducted his father's funeral.

"He was one of the kindest people I've ever met in my life. It's just so outrageous," Dart said. "You don't know where to start with this - the evil and the cowardice, I mean, in the middle of the night, attacking an 80-year-old man who's sound of sleep in his bad - a man who frankly would give his shirt off his back, and does it all the time."

Harris agreed that the attack was horrific, but he says Father Mallette is all about forgiveness.

"It's an outrage. The first feeling is a feeling of anger, but then the second feeling comes quickly about - how would Dan feel?" Harris said. "Dan would forgive these people, even though they did something that is totally unexplainable."

CBS Chicago reported Mallette has been a fixture at the church since 1977. He turned 80 just this past weekend.

Police were looking for the assailants, who they say did get away with some money.