State AG Releases Stunning Report on Church Sex Abuse

Report alleges 451 Catholic clergy in Illinois abused nearly 2K children from 1950 to 2019
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 12:10 AM CDT
Illinois AG Report: Hundreds of Catholic Clergy Abused 2K Kids
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Michael Dean Shelton)

In 2018, a grand jury report was released in Pennsylvania naming 300-plus "predator priests" in the state accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children over a period of seven decades. Partly inspired by those revelations, then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan started a probe in her own state, releasing what the AP calls a "blistering" partial report on the matter before she left office in early 2019. Now Kwame Raoul, who took over for Madigan and continued the investigation, has released the numbers his office uncovered, revealing more than 450 Catholic clergy across Illinois' six dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Chicago, sexually abused 1,197 children between 1950 and 2019.

The 696-page report released Tuesday was compiled by 25 staffers based on more than 100,000 pages of diocese documents, as well as 600 confidential interactions with survivors. The report added 149 names of accused clergy to lists of child sex abusers that the dioceses themselves had already IDed either before or during the AG's investigation, reports the New York Times. The paper notes that none of the total 451 accused are currently in active ministry, and at least 330 of them are thought to now be dead.

The report takes the dioceses to task for being slow to investigate allegations, inform parishioners, and acknowledge how widespread the abuse was. "This report clearly tells us that no one knew more about abuse, and no one did less about it, than these dioceses themselves," a spokesman from the advocacy group SNAP tells the Times. CNN gathered responses from multiple dioceses, including the Diocese of Springfield, which noted that the report "[serves] as a reminder that some clergy in the Church committed shameful and disgraceful sins against innocent victim survivors and did damage that simply cannot be undone."

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Meanwhile, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, said he had "concerns" with the report's findings, and that all names listed in this report had already been revealed by his diocese. Raoul concedes that the statute of limitations on many of the cases has since expired, meaning the survivors won't see legal justice in those situations. However, "by naming them here, the intention is to provide a public accountability and a measure of healing to survivors who have long suffered in silence," Raoul said at a Tuesday news conference, per the AP. (Much more here and here.)

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