|Investigator: Church Needs to Clean House--badly
By Matt C. Abbott
September 6, 2010
Thomas R. Hampson, an Illinois licensed private investigator and founder of the newly-formed Truth Alliance Foundation, is determined to expose corruption, particularly in the church, but even in society at large.
"It's clear to me that the crime problem has expanded as our collective values and character have deteriorated," says Hampson. "We need to address that core problem, and the church — defined as the people of God, not the institution or denomination — needs to take the lead. The first challenge is to clean up our own house."
Hampson knows it will be a daunting task, but he's ready, willing and able. His resume is impressive: In the 1960s he worked for the U.S. Air Force Security Service as an intelligence analyst. In the 1970s and early '80s he worked for the Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission as a chief investigator. From 1983 to 2004 he served as president of Search International, Inc., a company he established as an international investigation and security agency.
And from March 2006 to September 2007 Hampson was hired as a contract employee by DCFS to investigate the sexual exploitation of children by priests.
It was that portion of his career that shook him up the most.
"In all the years I've been doing investigative work, it was the year-and-a-half of my investigation into clergy abuse that really took its toll," he says.
One case Hampson was, and is, investigating involves the unsolved 1984 Chicago murder of Frank Pellegrini. Pellegrini was a prominent figure in the local Italian-American community who was known by several priests, including novelist Andrew Greeley, who subsequently alluded to the murder in one of his non-fiction books (click here to see the excerpt).
A friend of Pellegrini's told the homicide detective assigned to investigate the murder that Pellegrini was about to blow the whistle on a group of priests and others who were collectively engaged in sexually abusing children. The group called itself the "Boys' Club" and the witness believed Pellegrini was murdered to silence him about these activities.
The homicide detective (now deceased) then pursued this as one possible motive. He later got back to the witness and said he had "opened up a can of s--- so huge that he had to put the lid back on it." Reportedly the Chicago Police Department pursued no further investigation along those lines.
Hampson says many of the priests and laymen involved with this "Boys' Club" are still in the Chicago area and are active. He's doing everything in his power to expose them, but the years of political cover-up make it extremely difficult to do so.
Hampson does have a plan of action for the Truth Alliance Foundation, and he's hoping others will join him in the effort.
"First we have to gather enough information to describe the full scope and shape of the problem. Once we can see it clearly, then we can figure out how to solve it. Scientific studies are not enough. We need qualitative as well as quantitative insights. It takes a lot of work, but it can be done.
"The Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission succeeded in acquiring in-depth understanding of one aspect of the child sexual abuse problem 30 years ago. Our investigation into the production and distribution of child pornography gave us clear insight into the nature and scope of the problem. That insight allowed us to develop a model for catching, arresting and prosecuting the pornographers.
"After we developed that model, we handed off the enforcement to the Cook County Sheriff's Office and the model was then shared with other police departments throughout the country. With the advent of the Internet, the model was adapted to the electronic environment and now it's being used all over the world. That investigation was successful beyond anyone's most enthusiastic hopes or dreams. Still, the child pornography problem continues to grow, again because the deteriorating values and character continue to overwhelm law enforcement resources."
Also, while it may take a long time to do so, Hampson believes that "investigative models can be developed for every type of child sexual predator."
But why are so many people seemingly disinterested in fighting this vast evil?
"I think the main reason is that the average person has become less informed and less involved," says Hampson.
"Over the last several decades, as the pace of life has become so fast and cluttered with complexity, we have become more focused on our own interests and activities and on our own gadgets and personal treasures. Little attention gets directed toward our immediate neighborhoods or communities, and even less toward statewide or national events and concerns. We have bought into the illusion that laws have been passed and government agencies have been set up to take care of everything.
"During my lifetime the whole world has undergone profound changes. There have been tremendous advances in medicine, engineering, psychology, agriculture, communications, music, photography — just about everything. It's like science-fiction compared to my childhood. But in the area of crime control, in the area of personal values and character, it's a different story entirely. No matter how skilled law enforcement officials become, and no matter how well technology is deployed to catch the bad guys, criminal problems keep getting worse."
Hampson concedes that in some areas, "law enforcement has improved in its technical ability to deal with certain kinds of problems, as in combating organized crime, detecting insider trading, even in combating drug trafficking."
But, he says, "The volume of these activities has increased so dramatically that the resources of law enforcement are overwhelmed. And in other areas, law enforcement has not made any technical gains: Dealing with child sexual abuse is one of those areas. The problem and its scope cannot even be adequately described."
Not surprisingly, Hampson says we shouldn't look to the politicians to solve the problem.
"No matter how much lip service the politicians have given this problem and no matter how much money has been thrown at it, the right things are not being done."
Hampson insists that God-fearing people need to do more than just "talk the talk" when it comes to fighting corruption and protecting children.
"We need to shut up and start doing something effective about the plagues that infect our modern world."
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