Peoria at Center of Sex-abuse Suit Filed against Catholic Bishops and Dioceses Statewide
By Phil Luciano
October 18, 2018
Taking particular aim at Peoria, a lawsuit claims Catholic dioceses and bishops statewide conspired to create a decades-long public “nuisance” that endangered children by failing to release the names and files of clergy accused of sexual abuse.
Filed in Cook County Circuit Court late Thursday, the suit relies heavily on allegations of pedophilia by two Peoria clergy. One was removed from ministry years ago, while the other never has been publicly associated with such charges.
In a limited response, the Peoria diocese said it had not had time to review the entire lawsuit. However, in part, the diocese said in a statement, “Under the direction of Bishop (Daniel) Jenky, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria remains committed to maintaining a safe environment to all children.”
Named as defendants were the dioceses of Peoria, Springfield, Rockford, Joliet and Belleville, along with the Archdiocese of Chicago. The suit also names the Catholic Conference of Illinois, which represents Illinois bishops and archbishops and their diocese.
The suit was brought by four plaintiffs, represented by Jeff Anderson & Associates, a legal firm based in St. Paul, Minn., that specializes in sexual abuse by clergy. Two of the plaintiffs make accusations of pedophilia within the Peoria diocese.
One plaintiff, who attended St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Chillicothe, alleges sexual abuse between 1979 and 1984. Starting when the plaintiff was 8 and ending when he was 14, he said he was abused by then-Rev. John Anderson, who has since been publicly removed from the priesthood.
Another plaintiff, who attended Academy of our Lady/Spalding Institute, claims to have had sexual contact in 1981, when the plaintiff was 15. This involved a different Peoria clergyman — heretofore never named publicly regarding molestation allegations.
Before and after those acts, the suit claims, both clergymen engaged with sexual contact with other children. During all of that time, the suit states, the Peoria diocese knew of the molestation but failed to protect the plaintiffs.