Statewide investigation into clergy, faith leader abuse has received nearly 180 reports

Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR)

October 27, 2021

By Hope Kirwan

The state Department of Justice says they’ve received nearly 180 reports of abuse by faith leaders or of mishandling of abuse claims by religious organizations.

Attorney General Josh Kaul released an update Wednesday about the statewide investigation into clergy and faith leader abuse that his office launched in April.

The inquiry has been hindered by some Catholic dioceses not wanting to participate, with some leaders saying past cases of sexual abuse have already been reviewed by legal authorities.

As of July, the investigation had received more than 100 reports. On Wednesday, the DOJ provided some details about the additional 80 reports received since this summer.

In a press release Wednesday, Kaul said around 80 percent of the reports his office received were of abuse. The other 20 percent involved how a religious organization responded to reports of abuse.

The update said the reports of abuse have concerned clergy and leaders from multiple religious organizations, as well as abuse not related to faith groups. The release also said reports have involved “alleged abusers from every Catholic diocese in Wisconsin.”

Kaul said in the release that reports came from people in a wide range of ages, from those who are under 18 years old to people over 75.

Nearly 40 reports came from individuals who had not previously reported alleged abuse to law enforcement or a religious authority. 

“Thank you to the courageous people who have come forward to provide information about clergy and faith leader abuse,” Kaul said in a statement. “This review seeks to help bring healing to survivors and to help stop future harm, and we continue to encourage survivors and others with information to report.”

DOJ is continuing to encourage survivors, family, friends and advocates to report information on abuse or possible concealment of abuse to the agency online or by phone at 1-877-222-2620.