The Illinois Attorney General's investigation, released on Tuesday, has uncovered a disturbing truth: over 450 Catholic clergy members in Illinois have sexually abused nearly 2,000 children since 1950, far exceeding what the church had previously disclosed.
Commencing in 2018, the investigation undertaken by over 25 diligent staff members consisted of meticulous review of more than 100,000 pages of diocesan documents. Moreover, the team engaged in over 600 confidential interactions with relevant contacts. The results were nothing short of alarming, exposing a distressing reality that has been concealed for decades.
The report uncovers that between 1950 and 2019, an astonishing number of 451 Catholic clergy members were found to have abused 1,997 children in Illinois. One of the most troubling aspects is the prolonged secrecy surrounding these accounts of abuse, most of which remained hidden until now.
Additionally concerning is the finding that Illinois church leaders demonstrated delayed recognition of the magnitude of the abuse, exhibiting a lack of promptness in responding and neglecting to alert parishioners about potential perpetrators. The report catalogs individual instances of sexual abuse and provides extensive lists of accused clergy and religious brothers in each diocese involved.
The Illinois Attorney General Office’s report highlights a serious failure of duty by hierarchs in every Illinois diocese. These individuals not only concealed known abusers but also omitted their names from the lists of accused individuals.
Survivors’ accounts depict an all too familiar story of Church leaders’ serial predation of innocent parishioners and students. The victims were raised to exhibit trust, respect, and obedience towards religious leaders as they were regarded as individuals possessing high morals and immense power. These Christian leaders took advantage of their superior position and harmed those to whom they had a duty to provide guidance, supervision, and religious education.
Meyers & Flowers applauds the survivors who bravely came forward to report their abuse and hope this report will establish overdue procedures to better check and oversee their staff while also being held accountable for their failure to protect children from preventable abuse.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual abuse, please contact our team of sexual abuse lawyers ready to help victims and their families obtain the confidence to confront the responsible parties and hold them accountable for the irreparable harm caused by such predatory conduct.