Illinois attorney general says local clergy abusers number far more than church officials revealed
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced today that her office has found 500 more Catholic clergy accused of sexually abusing children than the state’s five dioceses and one archdiocese have publicly identified.
Ms. Madigan’s office says its preliminary findings have revealed that the Archdiocese of Chicago and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield have done an inadequate job of investigating allegations, and in some cases did not investigate them at all or notify state child welfare workers of the allegations.
“Because I know that the Church has too often ignored survivors of clergy sexual assault, I want to share the initial findings from our work,” Ms. Madigan said in a statement published on her office’s website. “While the findings are preliminary, they demonstrate the need for and importance of continuing this investigation.”
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan: “Because I know that the Church has too often ignored survivors of clergy sexual assault, I want to share the initial findings from our work.”
While church officials have publicly identified 185 clergy members in Illinois as having been “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse, Ms. Madigan’s office found allegations of abuse by at least 500 more. "Based upon the Office’s review of the Illinois Dioceses’ files, the Illinois Dioceses have, in total, received allegations related to sexual abuse for approximately 690 clergy,” her report stated. “The Illinois Dioceses have publicly identified only 185 clergy as having been ‘credibly’ accused of sexual abuse. As a result, the Illinois Dioceses have received allegations of sexual abuse for more than 500 clergy that the Illinois Dioceses have not shared with the public.”
The report does not include details on when or where the additional allegations were made, but a spokeswoman said that the allegations go back decades. Her statement comes amid a renewed national outcry over allegations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
Ms. Madigan began her investigation in August after the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that revealed the shocking history and scope of clergy child sexual abuse in that state. Since then, Ms. Madigan and her office have spoken or met with bishops, lawyers and diocesan representatives from the Archdiocese of Chicago and the state’s five dioceses. Her office also has reviewed thousands of pages of documents, including diocesan procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of abuse.
“I want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse,” declared Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, in a statement. “It is the courage of victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history. Their bravery spurred my predecessor Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to establish an archdiocesan Special Commission in 1991 to examine this terrible crisis, and to develop a robust set of procedures to protect young people from predators and to establish supportive services for victim-survivors and their families.”
“Those efforts continue today in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, which is staffed by lay professionals with backgrounds in investigative services, education, social work, and therapeutic services,” Archbishop Cupich continued. “They work daily to protect and heal. There can be no doubt about the constant need to strengthen our culture of healing, protection, and accountability. While the vast majority of abuses took place decades ago, many victim-survivors continue to live with this unimaginable pain.”
[This story will be updated as more details emerge.]