Illinois is one of the latest states to publicize the results of a decades-long investigation into the systemic sexual abuse of children by members of the Catholic clergy. The investigation in Illinois began in 2018 and included a review of documents from each of the state’s six Catholic dioceses. According to the report, published last month by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, more than 450 Catholic clergymen were accused of abusing nearly 2,000 children in Illinois over almost seven decades. If you or a loved one is a survivor of child sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic church, contact us today to find out whether you may be eligible for financial compensation for the harm you have suffered.
Illinois Report Reveals Names, Detailed Information About Alleged Abusers
This new Illinois state report is one of several recent reports naming Catholic clergy members suspected of sexually abusing minors and exposing the leaders and institutions that failed to report them or stop the abuse. “This report reveals names and detailed information of 451 Catholic clerics and religious brothers who abused at least 1,997 children across all of the dioceses in Illinois,” Raoul stated in a message accompanying the report. The state’s investigation identified a staggering 275 allegedly abusive clergy members in the Archdiocese of Chicago, 69 in the Diocese of Joliet, 51 in Peoria, 43 in Belleville, 32 in Springfield, and 24 in Rockford. “It is my sincere hope that this report will shine [a] light 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,” said Attorney General Kwame Raoul in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition.
Child Sex Abuse Crisis Within the Catholic Church
Claims of child sexual abuse involving the Catholic church are unfortunately not new. A string of abuse scandals in recent decades has exposed the staggering scale of child sex abuse allegedly perpetrated by Catholic priests and other members of the Catholic clergy, as well as efforts by higher-ups within the church to keep the abuse quiet. “The Catholic Church has a long history of actively covering up sexual abuse, including the silencing of victims,” said Kim Haines-Eitzen, professor of religious studies at Cornell University, after a similar and equally shocking investigative report was released in France. Just two months ago, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was also implicated in a report released by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, detailing the alleged abuse of over 600 minors by more than 150 Catholic priests and other clergymen. Several Catholic dioceses have since opened their archives, indicating that hundreds of priests had been suspected of abusing children over the course of decades and that in many cases, these “known abusers were given the opportunity to continue preying on children.”
Child sexual abuse occurring within powerful religious institutions is a pervasive issue, one that has long been characterized by “secrecy, cover-ups, and a lack of accountability,” as the Child Rights International Network puts it. Investigative reports like the one released in Illinois continue to shed light on the global crisis of child sexual abuse within the Catholic church, by the church’s own clergy, as well as efforts by the Catholic hierarchy to protect alleged abusers and keep claims of child sex abuse hidden from the public. Also brought to light by these all-important reports is the complete lack of justice and compensation for abuse victims. As the Diocese of Springfield said in a statement after the Illinois Attorney General released the findings of the state’s child sex abuse investigation, each report “has served 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.”
Find Out if You Qualify to File a Child Sex Abuse Lawsuit
Illinois’ probe is one of several nationwide that have been prompted at least in part by a 2018 grand jury investigation into Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. Each investigative report supports the presumption that child sex abuse within the Catholic church is vastly underreported and/or actively covered up. Prior to the investigation in Illinois, the church had reported just 103 alleged abusers, a far cry from the 451 named in the report. According to Attorney General Raoul, 330 of the accused clergy in Illinois have died, and in many cases, survivors have been barred from suing by their state’s statute of limitations. If you or someone you know was sexually abused as a child by a member of the Catholic church, fill out the form or call our consumer advocates today to learn about your rights. Many states have opened up “lookback” windows, giving victims of child sexual abuse an opportunity to file a lawsuit against their alleged abuser or abusers, regardless of when the abuse occurred. We can put you in touch with an experienced Catholic church sex abuse attorney who can determine whether you are eligible to file a claim.