New Report Shows Extent of Priest Abuse in Chicago

By Ed Brayton
Dispatches from the Culture Wars
October 14, 2010

A new report by Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic group that seeks reform of the church due to the epidemic of sexual abuse by priests, finds that more than half the parishes in the Chicago diocese had a priest who had been credibly accused of abuse at some point -- and many of them continue to have them:

A total of 256 of the Chicago Archdiocese's roughly 400 parishes and institutions, or approximately 60%, had an accused pedophile priest working there or in residence at some point in time.

The percentage of parishes and institutions ministered by credibly accused priests approached 25% in the mid-1990's. In 2009, one in five institutions in the archdiocese still had a credibly accused priest in residence.

To make things worse, when they assigned priests who'd been accused of sexual abuse they did so primarily in poor and minority churches:

According to a comparison of priest assignments with ZIP codes, credibly accused priests were assigned exclusively to institutions in 135 out of the 263 ZIP codes in the Archdiocese of Chicago. No credibly accused priests were ever assigned to any of the remaining 128 ZIP codes.

Of the 135 ZIP code areas where assignments were made, 13 ZIP codes received the most work assignments. Initial findings suggest that these areas tended to have higher concentrations of African-Americans and low median household income levels.

The conclusion:

"The Archdiocese of Chicago owes Catholics of Chicago some answers," said VOTF vice president and Chicago native Janet Hauter in commenting on the release of the study. "This study raises deeply troubling questions about the way credibly accused priests were sent to parishes and residences. The concentration of assignments in certain areas, the clustering of multiple pedophiles in the same place, and the total absence of assignments to parishes or institutions in other areas, all suggest that assignments were not made strictly in response to changing pastoral needs. The question of what criteria were applied to the assignment of these priests remains to be answered. It is painfully clear that these assignments were not accidental."

The percentage of priests credibly accused of abuse remains about 3% in the diocese. What I'd really like to see is what percentage of those priests was ever turned over to the police for investigation. I bet it's low.



1 VOTF vice president and Chicago native Janet Hauter:

The Archdiocese of Chicago owes Catholics of Chicago some answers

This whole approach has proven to be a colossal failure and yet it remains the standard approach to dealing with a multi-decadal wave of crime. The real question is why haven't the relevant legal authorities aggressively investigated, prosecuted, and sentenced those that are guilty? Public pressure alone or primarily on the Catholic Church nominally infers that the church is a governing body, it is not. The relevant legal authorities should be treating the church in the very same manner it treats any other organized crime entity who commit crimes commiserate to the level created by the Catholic Church.

Posted by: Michael Heath | October 14, 2010 11:15 AM

2 Pope Benedict: Patron Saint of Pedophiles

Posted by: Parris | October 14, 2010 11:15 AM

3 To build on Michael's point, the Church's goal is to protect itself, and people need to quit assuming that moral arguments are going to sway anyone in the organization to voluntarily damage the church. No one tries to shame the mafia or drug cartels into obeying the law. Public pressure should focus on getting law enforcement agencies to do their jobs.

Posted by: penn | October 14, 2010 11:38 AM

4 Why the hell aren't the police going after these guys? What does it take to get the police involved in what is plainly a serious crime?

We go so crazy over child predators until they are in the church. Seriously WTF!

Posted by: Robert | October 14, 2010 11:45 AM

5 As in any criminal case-accusation is one thing.
Getting someone up on stage to say 'he did it' is another thing altogether. These brainless sheep BELIEVE the priests have a special link to g0d and their religion is MORE important then their kids. After all the kids will grow out of it!

Posted by: L.Long | October 14, 2010 12:29 PM

6 Constantly the religionists complain that gays wanting equal rights mean that they want special rights. I can’t think of any other group as large as the religionists that actually do have special rights. If you’re a Pharmacist and your religion doesn’t believe in birth control it’s your right to not sell birth control. If your religion doesn’t approve of modern medicine it OK to cure a child’s sickness exclusively through prayer. How many con men are allowed to operate by claiming to be ministers?
If pedophilia were even one tenth as prevalent for one tenth the length of time in a secular organization, that organization would probably be prosecuted and sued out of existence.

Posted by: HeartlessB | October 14, 2010 12:36 PM

7 Obviously whats needed is women priests and lots of them to keep an eye on men.

Posted by: Paen | October 14, 2010 1:11 PM

8 The VOTF report does not show all the pedophile priests in Chicago, only the ones where accusations can be proven well enough for lawsuits. There are likely dozens more perp priests in Chicago area.

The perp who got to me and my sister in Bartlett, a town outside Chicago in the Archdiocese, 1949-1955, is not in any database. He's dead, we are old, the charges can't be proved in court, so his name is not in any database.

But most pedo-priest victims my age had no recourse until recently, no one even talked about sexuality in the 1950s, and by now most witnesses are dead.

Our accusations, mine very public, in print, on the web at my blog and on AlterNet, with pictures, do not count in these statistics. My charges have also never been proved untrue, or even challenged.

So any other person looking for Horne-y's name will not find it unless they stumble across my blog, even Google Alerts don't bring up stories with the name of Father Thomas Barry Horne of Bartlett, Illinois, no matter how many times I post it at my blog. Like this post yesterday: never showed up in any of my Google News Alerts for his name.

The truth is nowhere near totally told about this crime spree.

Posted by: Kay Ebeling | October 14, 2010 1:36 PM

9 This is of great interest to me because this is one of the primary dioceses where I have been involved both in the evaluation and removal of accused predators and in the treatment of victims. My experience has been as follows: those who had repeat accusations were finally removed in the early 90s. Some who faced a single allegation were reassigned and did not re-offend. Most of those were removed in 2002-03. There were some accused non-diocesan priests floating around unrecognized in religious orders after that because the diocese knew nothing about the accusations. If memory serves, the diocese ordered these records turned over in about 04 and required that these men be removed from any ministry. The neglect occurred because these priests don’t belong to the diocese. They are not selected, trained, ordained, supervised or paid by the diocese. They just operate within the geographic area of the diocese (e.g, they might work at Loyola University, a Jesuit-operated university).

Here is a typical case that would be listed as an offender with an assignment (from a real case I worked with). The offender, a religious order priest, is listed as an offender on victim advocacy pages on the net. This offender was accused of asking inappropriate questions of a sexual nature to a 17-yearold. The comments did not include any suggestion of sexual activity between the two. There was nothing prosecutable. The offender admitted that he was guilty of the accusation. His order reassigned him to work in a facility where no children are present. He handled phone calls and did some booking work. In ‘04 when his name was handed over to the archdiocese he was removed from that job by order of the AOC. He was “assigned” to a house with 3 other adults. He had no work assignment. He would be counted as a credibly accused priest assigned in the AOC.

Another priest faced one accusation of misconduct dating to the 1970s. The accuser was a contractor doing work at his church. The work was shoddy and he was fired. A week later an allegation of abuse in the 1970s was filed by the contractor. The priest was removed; the prosecutor was notified. An investigation was undertaken. Outcome: he said, he denied. The priest was subsequently reassigned to a parish about 1 year later. Not a whiff any previous accusation has ever surfaced and absolutely nothing since has surfaced. Of the 20 cases of currently assigned priests listed in the report, is he one of them? How is “credible” accusation determined for the purposes of the report?

Another case: a priest I know was accused by a woman of looking funny and behaving in a sexually suggestive way (but no actual words or physical contact involved). She felt he was hitting on her. She reported it. He was immediately removed from ministry, that day. He nearly had a nervous breakdown over it. He quit. Said he couldn’t take it anymore. I’ve known him very well for years. He is 100% gay, gay, gay. That is not public information. He felt put on the spot to reveal what is absolutely nobody’s god-damned business because he is and has been celibate for years. Not only has he never been accused of misconduct with men, he is utterly uninterested in sexual contact with women. Would that be counted as a credible allegation of sexual misconduct in this report? He was removed, denied that he had done anything and quit because he felt he could just be randomly victimized in the future. He could not handle the public humiliation. There are others who threw in the towel under similar circumstances. Are the ones who fought back and stayed counted as credibly accused priests? Don’t know because the report doesn’t name names. There are 20, according to the report. Who are they?

Some other problems I see in the report. The report states:

The percentage of parishes and institutions ministered by credibly accused priests approached 25% in the mid-1990's. In 2009, one in five institutions in the archdiocese still had a credibly accused priest in residence.

The percentage of credibly accused priests is reported at 2.5% of all priests (p. 9 & 12). The absolute number of CAPS is reported at 20 (p. 10). Total number of priests in AOC is 1900 (p. 11). So far so good. The numbers add up. The total number of parishes in AOC in 2009 is c. 360 (p. 15). Total number of parishes ministered by credibly accused priests in 2009=70 (p 14) or about 20%.

So my question is, how are 2.5% of priests (20 priests) serving 70 parishes/20% of parishes? I have access to the same primary source materials they're using and can't make heads or tails of how they're counting. They also refer (above quote) to priests ministering in parishes and “institutions,” but what does ministering mean? There is no public ministry carried on at the location cited as the location of most frequent current work assignment. The accused priests there aren’t even allowed to preside at Mass for the other priests at this location.

How they count ministry and work assignments is itself confusing. For example, they count 100 North Maple as the number one zip code/location for work assignments (100 North Maple “across from a high school”). That's a 900 acre intensively monitored and supervised facility housing older men who could not be prosecuted. Children are never at that facility. The decision that was made was that it would be better to put them under permanent intensive supervision than set them out on the street unsupervised. They are living under what amounts to house arrest. (I’ve described this institution in previous Dispatches comments). If these accused priests are working at all, they might be working a few hours helping in a kitchen or washing dishes for other priests--work assignments of that sort—the same kind of work done by prisoners in a state penitentiary. They cannot drive. They cannot visit family off facility. They cannot leave except for doctor's office visits accompanied by a monitor. The idea that these older men could make it from where they are housed and monitored to the Mt. Carmel high school building undetected and just walk on to the campus through what is a single campus entrance, walk from there to the Mt. Carmel buildings, go into the buildings and molest students is utterly ridiculous. It sounds bad on paper, but if you see the set-up with your own eyes, it's apparent that, short of prison, this is probably the best location for a religious prison for these guys. That location is what is cited in the report as the most frequent assignment (far outnumbering any others) in the report.

The zip code and location they cite for "Quigley Seminary" on Chestnut (Near North Chicago). That's a closed school. There are offices with adults only in that building. It's in a commercial area in downtown Chicago. They also cite 645 N. Michigan, suite 543. That's the vicar for priests’ office. No kids there, just a very small number of adults in a suite you can't enter without being let in accompanied by one of the staff. This is the staff charged with keeping track of unprosecutable offenders and priests having an assortment of personal or work problems having nothing to do with misconduct. If that's being used as a maildrop, it would be for priests who are not living or working in any AOC facility.

Overall, I see a blizzard of numbers in the report. Some of the numbers are confusing and some are outright misleading. They also don't indicate when complaints occurred and who was assigned after complaints were filed, versus assignments before any complaint was filed. Big difference. I also notice that this report counts priests whose ordination goes back to 1917--every one of them is dead. The members of that class would be 110 years old.

There is no question that there was an enormous amount of serious wrongdoing, cover-up, reassignment of offenders, but this report confuses more than it brings clarity what is happening now. It seems more like a publicity device that is being used because this group hasn’t been in the news lately.

I sympathize completely with the victims of clergy sex abuse. I've treated many and what they were put through is criminal and horrendously evil. I am 100% confident that every single victim I’ve treated would describe me as a strong advocate. Many have said that I saved their lives (not my words, theirs.) The most common words to describe me as an evaluator of accused priests is “very tough.” The people I’ve evaluated are generally not happy with me. I have a no-nonsense reputation.

If there are priests who have been credibly accused, and they are still working in parishes, the public deserves to know the names, dates, accusations, ages, current work assignments (parishes) and residences—the entire list, 20 names according to the report. Just tell us who these 20 are. I’ve seen such lists many times in the past. People should know if a credibly accused priest is in ministry in their parish and the AOC should be hounded, picketed, denied donations and called out until every last one of them is removed. But as much as I know about what is going on in the AOC dealings with accused priests, I can’t make much sense of large parts of this report. Taken on its face, the report arouses outrage, but it provides nothing more than general accusations that cannot be evaluated.

Posted by: Dr X | October 14, 2010 2:20 PM

10 According to a comparison of priest assignments with ZIP codes, credibly accused priests were assigned exclusively to institutions in 135 out of the 263 ZIP codes in the Archdiocese of Chicago. No credibly accused priests were ever assigned to any of the remaining 128 ZIP codes.

Of the 135 ZIP code areas where assignments were made, 13 ZIP codes received the most work assignments. Initial findings suggest that these areas tended to have higher concentrations of African-Americans and low median household income levels.

The key words above being "credibly accused". That means that the church had already been informed of the accusations and couldn't find a way to dismiss them so they did what they have always done in such cases - they hid the perpetrators where they couldn't be reached by the accusers' local law authorities. (I believe that was one of the special talents of Ratzy, the leering pontiff).

Case in point. About 10 years ago, a young priest with a "spotless record" was accused of molesting several girls at the parish grammar school just two blocks away from my home in a very white, very middle class neighborhood. Initially, the church circled the wagons and tried to sweep it under the rug but the case quickly gained momentum. (Neighborhoods like mine attract a large concentration of city employees because of our residency requirements so we have a lot of cops living here and rumor had it that one of the children involved was related to a precinct commander.) As soon as the heat started getting to be too much for the church to handle, Father Diddler (not his real name) was quickly reassigned to somewhere in India.

Case closed. Move along. Nothing to see here. No harm done (to the church).

Posted by: Big Boppa | October 14, 2010 2:30 PM

11 Obviously whats needed is women priests and lots of them to keep an eye on men.

Yes, let's just foist an even bigger burden on women instead of expecting men to behave like decent human beings.

What's really needed is for law enforcement and people of high power with in the Catholic church, regardless of gender, to hold these criminals responsible and take them out of the public so they can't access any more victims.

Posted by: catgirl | October 14, 2010 3:21 PM

12 Yes it might be unfair to foist this on women but it's always been women who did all the hard work that realy makes the church work while the men put on fancy costumes and spouted drivel.

Posted by: Paen | October 14, 2010 7:19 PM

13 Obviously whats needed is women priests and lots of them to keep an eye on men.

You're kind of repetitive, you know that?

Posted by: Azkyroth | October 14, 2010 8:10 PM

14 This is turning into a long slow swim through a sewage treatment pond. The answer is obvious.

First, send in the police, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Second, go after the Catholic Church under the anti-racketeering statutes, and civil lawsuits. Either make it illegal, or bankrupt it.

Posted by: MacTurk | October 15, 2010 6:58 AM

15 Why don't they just listen to us? Why hire experts to count countable heads? Just listen to us!

Posted by: Kay Ebeling | October 15, 2010 8:02 AM

16 All of us suffer from the reprehensible actions of both sexually abusive representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and members of the episcopacy who enabled and covered up for them over decades. None of the bishops or their staff have been disciplined for their actions in putting untold numbers of children in harm's way over those decades.

Yes, programs have been put in place but has their been real accountability and transparency in individual dioceses?

Why even in Delaware after the Child Victims Law went into effect in 2007 with its 2 year civil window for previously time barred cases of sexual abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on the Sunday night before the DeLuca 8 trial was to open on the following Monday morning.

That was a year ago. The diocese is again challenging the law before the Delaware Supreme Court having lost decisions in lower courts.

No matter what the diocese professes it isn't about money. Why the diocese wanted to continue paying known sexual predators while Chapter 11 proceeded. Judge Sonchi ruled against it.

It is about keeping secrets that would come out in open court.

One cannot move forward without starting with accountability and transparency for the crimes and the mortal sins of the past. The bishops haven't done that and the history of the Archdiocese of Chicago is a most glaring example of episcopal cover-up and mismanagement. There are other examples.

Why is it that in every state where better laws extending or completely removing statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children, dioceses and state Catholic Conferences have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep those acts from becoming law? That list of states includes Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Colorado.
Is there a "Do as I say not as I do" policy apparent here?

I agree with Barbara Blaine that most of the names of predators in the U.S. haven't been made public. Some dioceses have even removed lists of convicted, known or credibly accused from their websites.

For the benefit of the Archdiocese of Chicago and its spokeswoman the report many be found at:

How can the archdiocese say the analysis and conclusions sounded "questionable" when they haven't read it?
Same old, same old?


Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
New Castle, Delaware


Professor Marci Hamilton and Sister Maureen Paul Turlish on NPR's Radio Times on WHYY in Philadelphia, April 12, 2010


Posted by: Sister Maureen Paul Turlish | October 15, 2010 8:38 AM

17 re: #11, catgirl

] Yes, let's just foist an even bigger burden on women
] instead of expecting men to behave like decent human
] beings.

] What's really needed is for law enforcement and people of
] high power with in the Catholic church, regardless of
] gender, to hold these criminals responsible and take them
] out of the public so they can't access any more victims.

Saying that it's 'men behaving badly' implies that all men are somehow molesters if no one is watching. I don't particularly care for that implication, even if it's accidental.

The Church has been an easy place people with non-standard sexual preferences to hide. In some cases, it was probably the easiest route to avoid persecution from the mainstream, e.g gay priests and nuns. In the relevant cases, it was a easy place to prey on the young.

I agree wholeheartedly with your second paragraph. These people need to be brought to justice, render unto Caesar and all that.

Posted by: Steve | October 15, 2010 10:59 AM

18 the catholic apologists drive me freakin crazy. The grand pedeo's house is at the north end of my street. It's an affront to walk by. It's insulting.

It's basically a criminal organization. and fuq ND football -- guys - you're irrelevant, but for the abused catholic sports media.

please stop these crimes. catholics, I'm looking at you. supporting them or fighting pedophilia. your choice.

Posted by: VikingMoose | October 15, 2010 11:13 AM

19 Minor nitpick about the title: should be "abuse by priests". "Priest abuse" is something completely different.

Posted by: sidhe3141 | October 15, 2010 2:45 PM

20 There's a question I'm honestly curious about, that's only tangentially related to the catholic culture of child rape. What is the catholic church's policy on child abuse NOT committed by a priest?

It's been made painfully clear that the catholic response to a priest abusing children is to cover it up and provide him with fresh victims. But what do they do if the abuser isn't one of their own? Are they pro-rape in all contexts, or just in this one?

If a priest learns that a child is being abused, and they don't feel obligated to defend their rapist colleagues, what do they do? Do they report the abuser to the proper authorities? Do they refuse to pass on info heard in confession, but look for some other way to help? Do they try to teach the victims some kind of avoidance or coping strategies? Do they encourage other parishoners to leave their kids unattended with a known child abuser?

When not hiding from their own crimes, do catholic priests react to abused children as a person with some shred of morality would, or are they always sociopathic rape enablers? Have catholic priests formed a subculture wholly devoid of basic compassion and decency, or do they only throw those things aside when their bottom line is at stake?

Posted by: phantomreader42 | October 15, 2010 4:10 PM

21 The problem? Like the murder of my first husband who divorced me and married a catholic woman a week later who shot his head off. She was only in county jail around 4 hours, they let her go. All she has to do is confess to her priest, keep giving him money and he requires her to say the 'Hail Mary' 500 times and she's off scott-free and still headed to heaven! He says HE is the boss, and he'll keep that secret. So they think they are GOD, or they are slyly trying to make it possible for satan to take GOD'S throne? You tell me.

Posted by: She | October 15, 2010 6:19 PM

22 Having attended Catholic schools for 12 years and having now the retrospective vision of 30 years, I firmly believe this was going on in my parish/school when Iwas there. You can retroactively read the signs. At the time, though, I was a child. It still sickens me. It sickens me more, though, that there are still people willfully making excuses for these people even now.

Posted by: MLD | October 15, 2010 7:40 PM

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