Rockford Register Star
May 23, 2023
By Andy Carrigan
A multi-year investigation into child sex abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in Illinois found at least 1,997 children across the state were sexually abused between 1950 and 2019.
Attorney General Kwame Raoul Tuesday released a comprehensive report detailing decades of child sex abuse by members of the Illinois Catholic dioceses, which includes Belleville, Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield.
The nearly 700-page report features detailed narrative accounts of child sex abuse committed by Catholic clerics.
Many of the narratives were written in consultation with survivors, are based upon their experiences, and told from the survivor’s point of view.
“I was raised and confirmed in the Catholic church and sent my children to Catholic schools. I believe the church does important work to support vulnerable populations; however, as with any presumably reputable institution, the Catholic church must be held accountable when it betrays the public’s trust,” Raoul said.
Although the report formally concludes the investigation the Attorney General’s office opened in 2018, it contains 50 pages of the office’s recommendations to the dioceses for the handling of future child sex abuse allegations.
Before Raoul’s investigation, the Catholic dioceses of Illinois publicly listed only 103 substantiated child sex abusers. By comparison, Raoul’s report reveals names and detailed information of 451 Catholic clerics and religious brothers who abused at least 1,997 children across all of the dioceses in Illinois.
Of the 451 clerics in the report, 330 have died, according to Raoul.https://cm.rrstar.com/article-body/inline-desktop-anon_052323_MemorialDay
According to a preliminary investigation conducted by Raoul’s predecessor, the state’s dioceses deemed only 26% of the allegations they received to be “credible,” while either not investigating or deeming remaining 74% to be unsubstantiated.
The Archdiocese of Chicago, and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield issued a joint statement regarding the findings.
“The Catholic Church in Illinois has been at the forefront of dealing with sexual abuse of minors for many years,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and Metropolitan of the Chicago Province.
“At this time, working with the Office of the Attorney General of Illinois, the leaders of all six Illinois dioceses endeavored to make clear and update our approach, mindful of our lived experience and best practices in this field. Our common goals in doing so are to ensure we offer pastoral support to those affected by this tragedy and to work diligently to prevent it from occurring again.”
The Illinois dioceses’ said for years their procedures include, among other things:
- The diocesan website publication of the names of its clerics credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.
- Policies for handling allegations of sexual abuse of minors against clerics incardinated in their dioceses.
- Diocesan policies for handling such allegations against deceased, laicized and religious order priests.
- Processes for dealing with allegations that arise during criminal investigations or civil lawsuits.
The Illinois Catholic dioceses serve 3.4 million Catholics, comprising approximately 27 percent of the total state population, through more than 900 parishes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.