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AG Madigan finds 500 additional allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and clergy

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release from yesterday…

Attorney General Lisa Madigan today released preliminary findings of her ongoing investigation into the Catholic Church. While the six dioceses in Illinois have now publicly identified 185 clergy members as having been “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse, Madigan’s investigation has found that the dioceses have received allegations of sexual abuse of at least 500 additional priests and clergy members in Illinois.

“Because I know that the Church has too often ignored survivors of clergy sexual assault, I want to share the initial findings from our work,” Madigan said. “While the findings are preliminary, they demonstrate the need for and importance of continuing this investigation.”

Madigan began her investigation in August following the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report describing the scope of clergy child sexual abuse in that state. Since then, Madigan and her office have spoken or met with bishops, lawyers and diocesan representatives from all six dioceses in Illinois: the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield. Madigan’s office also has reviewed thousands of pages of documents and files from each diocese, including diocesan procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of abuse.

At the outset of the investigation, only two of the dioceses had published a list of clergy whom the diocese had determined were “credibly” accused of sexually abusing children. As a result of the investigation, the four other Illinois dioceses have compiled and published similar lists. Also as a result of Madigan’s office reviewing diocese files, over the past four months, the dioceses have added 45 clergy to the lists of those who have been “credibly” accused, resulting in a total of 185 clergy members who have been publicly identified by the dioceses. Madigan anticipates additional names will be disclosed as her office’s investigation continues.

Based on the preliminary review of the dioceses’ files, Madigan’s office has found that there are at least another 500 clergy that the Illinois dioceses have received allegations about. The investigation has revealed that allegations frequently have not been adequately investigated by the dioceses or not investigated at all. In many cases, the Church failed to notify law enforcement authorities or Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) of allegations of child sexual abuse. Among the common reasons the dioceses have provided for not investigating an allegation is that the priest or clergy member was deceased or had already resigned at the time the allegation of child sexual abuse was first reported to the diocese.

“By choosing not to thoroughly investigate allegations, the Catholic Church has failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois,” Madigan said. “The failure to investigate also means that the Catholic Church has never made an effort to determine whether the conduct of the accused priests was ignored or covered up by superiors.”

The full report is here.

* Sun-Times

Madigan acknowledged it’s not clear whether all of the newly unearthed allegations are credible.

But she noted that in many instances the church did very little to try to determine their validity.

“If they had an excuse not to investigate” a sex abuse claim internally, “they took it,” Madigan said.

“The Catholic church, they should have never been in a position to police themselves.”

* Tribune

In a prepared statement, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich acknowledged that victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests continue to live with the pain. He said the archdiocese has been looking into the issue of sexual abuse since at least 1991, when then-Cardinal Joseph Bernardin formed a special commission. He also cited the archdiocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Youth as a way it has tried to help survivors.

“I want to express again the profound regret of the whole church for our failures to address the scourge of clerical sexual abuse,” Cupich said in the statement. “It is the courage of the victim-survivors that has shed purifying light on this dark chapter in church history.” […]

William Kunkel, the general counsel for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said he doesn’t anticipate the public list of Chicago-area priests with credible allegations of abuse to grow. The archdiocese has no immediate plans to review past allegations — some of which go back decades — because it has already reported past allegations to prosecutors in Cook and Lake counties, Kunkel said. In cases involving a priest who has died, children are no longer at risk, Kunkel said.

“We expect to add no further names at this point. We think the list is a complete list of all priests, of all clergy who have worked in the archdiocese who have substantiated claims,” Kunkel said.

* WaPo

Some state Catholic leaders, under siege during a year of global scandal over bishops’ handling of abuse cases, pushed back. The crux of Madigan’s announcement was unfair and “false,” said William Kunkel, counsel for the Chicago archdiocese.

“The idea that clergy sexual abuse of minors is more extensive than [we] reported is just false,” he said.

“We don’t see lawyers, doctors, schools publishing lists like this,” he said of allegations not found to be reasonably credible. “It’s not fair to put out a list of people accused, any more than it would be fair to put out a list of accused reporters.”

The full archdiocese response, along with others, is here.

* AP

The Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests is criticizing the Illinois Catholic church for its handling of allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan reported Wednesday that her investigation has found as many as 690 allegations of abuse by Catholic clergy. Illinois six dioceses have reported they found 185.

Zach Hiner is executive director of SNAP. He says Madigan’s finding is why SNAP wants independent investigations by outside groups of priest abuse. He says only when Madigan began her investigation did the Illinois dioceses disclose that they were aware of 45 additional undisclosed clergy who had credible allegations against them.

Hiner says he wants every state to conduct similar investigations and wants the Justice Department to make inquiries as well.


  1. - Jocko - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 9:52 am:

    ==We think the list is a complete list==

    That’s like the attorney for the Gambino crime family or Sinaloa cartel saying “Yup, you’ve got them all.”

  2. - Anon221 - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 9:57 am:

    “In cases involving a priest who has died, children are no longer at risk, Kunkel said.”

    How absolutely callous can one be to make such a statement? You are only protecting the abuser while ignoring the abuse that person did to children who may now be adults. That trauma does not magically (or prayfully) vanish when the abuser dies (banned punctuation).

  3. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 9:59 am:

    Imagine how many incidents are never reported. This problem continues to grow in magnitude while the Catholic Church continues to try and minimize. They just don’t get it. Apologies from a few Catholic leaders comes up woefully short when the Church continues to display a lack of transparency.

  4. - Really? - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:00 am:

    How can there be no oversight or regulations put in place to avoid this? Shouldn’t it be common sense to require churches report sexual assault allegations with children?

    Literally no consequences besides bad PR?

  5. - Barrington - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    Commend Lisa Madigan on starting this investigation and setting this up for the next attorney general to complete the investigation.

  6. - Kayak - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:07 am:

    Catholics prefer you to not know this, as according to them, the real evil in Illinois is a display at the Capital titled “Knowledge is the Greatest Gift”.

  7. - Kayak - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:10 am:

    Knowledge is the greatest gift, unless of course you are the Catholic Church, then you must publicly oppose it.

  8. - Huh? - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:20 am:

    Kayak - the same can be said of any organization that has a vested interest in maintaining a power structure. Child sexual abuse is not limited to religion. Prime example is the US Womens Gymnastics. News is coming out that the USOC knew about Larry Nasar and kept silent.

  9. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:42 am:

    Agree with ‘Huh?’ What the matter with you, Kayak? Don’t you know that multiple allegations of sexual abuse, and the covering up of that abuse, shouldn’t keep organizations from engaging in staggering levels of hypocrisy? I mean, when you start calling out the Catholic Church for ignoring actual crimes and instead focusing on sideshows like a harmless display in a public building, you’ve crossed a line. Before you know it, you’re insulting members of Congress for passing bills to rename a post office instead of investigating trumps shady Moscow hotel deal. Where does this chaos end, I ask you?

  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    –The archdiocese has no immediate plans to review past allegations…–

    Wrong answer. How can it not review them? Just don’t want to know?

  11. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    The abuser being dead does not make the abuse disappear. I don’t care if this happened two hundred years ago. A full investigation and accounting is needed.

    The AG needs to be doing this important work.

    Where is Schimpf and the rest of the crew on this issue? Ives? Where is the outrage?

  12. - Threepwood - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 10:58 am:

    Huh? does have a relevant point though. Believe me, I think the Catholic Church had this coming, and so much more. And this fact does not lessen the crime or my disgust. But as public consciousness of these sorts of issues has grown lately, we’ve seen it exposed in universities, sports organizations, corporations, etc. It’s almost as if giving powerful and/or wealthy organizations vast amounts of unwarranted deference and special exemptions is a bad idea.

  13. - crazybleedingheart - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    To clarify your headline, Rich, that’s 500 additional clergy, not 500 additional allegations. Safe to assume there were thousands.

  14. - Nick Name - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:18 am:

    Springfield Bishop Paprocki (my bishop) tells CNN that the bishops covered it up out of “a virtuous intent to protect the faithful from scandal.”

    Holy cripes. Where to begin?

  15. - Ginhouse Tommy - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:21 am:

    To do any volunteer work as a monitor or coach or chaperone of any kind for a Catholic grade or high school you are required to take a course called Saving God’s children. The instructor said that the Boy Scouts of America sent a memo around warning that pedophiles were becoming scout leaders to prey on the young scouts, so beware. The year of that memo was 1931. I’m just repeating what she said but that stuck out.

  16. - Fav human - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:35 am:

    Will the new AG do the same for Chicago public schools? Didn’t they do the same thing?

  17. - Earnest - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:36 am:

    Nice to see the Attorney General pressing the issue. It seems like a big organizational culture problem that has gone on for decades (centuries?) and is not being effectively addressed. I would also want to look closely at the intersection between people involved in this set of issues and those with authority over the gigantic array of medical, educational and social services funded by the state of Illinois.

  18. - morningstar - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    Point of clarity - various media have reported this as 500 additional “cases” and 500 additional “clergy.” The press release clearly states that the AG is referring to additional members of the clergy against whom allegations are made. Also, recognize that there is a difference between the church leaders and the church members - when using the term “Catholics” you are essentially including a vast number of persons who had no part in this cover-up and are as disgusted and sickened by it as non-members.

  19. - Frank-incensed - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    & this is why the Pope didn’t trust these bumbling bishops at their recent confab to come up with any real solutions to police themselves (literally the foxes guarding the henhouse) ; to make it worse - these are ‘US’ bishops knowingly hiding predators … leading by example for the rest of the world

  20. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    “It’s not fair to put out a list of people accused, any more than it would be fair to put out a list of accused reporters.”

    If a list of reporters accused of sexual abuse exceeds six-hundred names, feel free to put it out there.

    – MrJM

  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    Public Schools try to hide this also, just like Chicago Public Schools have done. 1 large Central Illinois school district failed to inform real reason why teacher had left their employ. I suspect that this has happened 1000’s of times in Illinois over the last century.

  22. - Interim Retiree - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 12:13 pm:

    This is shocking: 3 of my HS teachers, a classmate, & another that worked where I had my 1st teaching job are all on the list. I pray for their victims & thank God daily I was not one. Thank you AG Madigan.

  23. - Jocko - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 12:18 pm:

    ==It’s not fair to put out a list of people accused==

    Like the auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles?

  24. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 12:30 pm:

    — including a vast number of persons who had no part in this cover-up and are as disgusted and sickened by it as non-members.—

    No part? In the over 15 years since these stories broke, these members have been dutifully shoveling money into the donation plate, indifferent to the abuse happening with their organization.

    The beliefs of someone do not require them to do this. They have stayed in this organization by either choice or laziness. The other option is that they support what is being done.

    They are accountable for their choices.

    Don’t like it? Should have left the church at any point in the last decade in a half.

    I did.

  25. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 12:38 pm:

    As a non practicing Catholic, I follow priest allegations. One of my high school teachers (Priest) was a perpetrator. This list has to be looked at carefully with regards to the dates. In recent years, many dioceses have greatly improved their reporting, their vetting and policies regarding priest abuse. The Church has done lots of corrective action. They are on the right track.

  26. - Medvale School for the Gifted - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:28 pm:

    In the meantime, Catholic leaders still want to publicly shun many Catholic elected officials by denying them communion.

  27. - morningstar - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 1:47 pm:

    TheInvisibleMan - not all have been “dutifully” shoveling money … etc.

  28. - Shamrockery - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:35 pm:

    ==Catholics prefer you to not know this,==

    Not this Catholic. I welcome it. Every last thing needs to be publicized, regardless of whether it can be prosecuted or who was involved. This is beyond overdue.

  29. - MortonPunkinChuckin - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    Didn’t the General Assembly have a fairly recent extensive problem with Sexual Harassment? and didn’t they try to cover up the details?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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