Around 450 Catholic clergy sexually abused nearly 2,000 children in Illinois, 4 times more than previously reported: AG

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The number of “Catholic clerics and brothers” who sexually assaulted children across all six dioceses in Illinois is far higher than what was previously reported by the church, a state investigation has found.

At least 451 clergy members abused at least 1,997 children in the state between 1950 and 2019, Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a bombshell report released Tuesday. The figure is more than four times the 103 child sex abusers previously reported by church leaders.

The rampant abuse, most of which went unreported, was the result of decades of Catholic leadership decisions and policies that have “allowed known child sex abusers to hide, often in plain sight,” the 696-page report said.

As part of the multi-year investigation — which started in 2008 under Raoul’s predecessor, Lisa Madigan — state attorneys and investigators reviewed more than 100,000 pages of documents held by the dioceses, and spent “countless hours engaged in interviews and conversations with diocesan leadership and representatives.”

Raoul’s 25-member team also spoke with more than 600 survivors through phone calls, email, letters and interviews.

The report goes into precise, and sometimes graphic, details of abuse by clergy and religious brothers, as well as instances of failure by church leaders to confront abusers.

While thanking those survivors who “bravely came forward to share their perspectives,” Raoul acknowledged that many abusers “will never see justice in a legal sense,” as the statute of limitations has expired in many cases.

However, he hopes the report will “shine light both on those who violated their positions of power and trust to abuse innocent children, and on the men in church leadership who covered up that abuse.”

“These perpetrators may never be held accountable in a court of law, but 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,” he said.

The investigation began in late 2018 after a grand jury in Pennsylvania found that more than 300 Catholic clerics had abused more than 1,000 children over the prior 70 years, Raoul said.

On Monday, ahead of the attorney’s general announcement, the archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich, called the abuse “repugnant” and said the church had fully cooperated with the state investigation.

“My hope is that the release of this report will be an occasion for the attorney general to issue a rallying cry to all adults to join in the work of safeguarding children, lest this moment be a lost opportunity,” Cupich said. “I stand ready to continue to do my part.”

The Catholic Conference of Illinois says 2,215 priests, 1,372 deacons, and 260 religious brothers lead the state’s 949 parishes. The state’s 3.5 million Catholics make up approximately 27% of Illinois’ total population.

With News Wire Services