The Illinois Attorney General’s office has published a preliminary report which accuses the Catholic Church of failing to disclose the names of over 500 accused of abuse, and not following through with internal investigations.
As the disturbing depth of the Catholic Church’s problem with sexual abuse continues to come to light, the Illinois Attorney General’s office is now adding heat to the flames with a report that says the church has failed to reveal – and possibly “concealed” – the vast majority of the perpetrators.
The revelation follows the dioceses’ release of a list which identifies 185 priests who have been “credibly” accused of child sexual-abuse, a number that came up quite short of the 690 implicated in Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s preliminary report which was released this Wednesday.
While the church allegedly only chose to publish the names of those against whom accusations had proven to be credible, the Attorney General’s report claims that many of the cases had “not been adequately investigated by the dioceses or not investigated at all”, adding that “The preliminary stages of this investigation have already demonstrated that the Catholic Church cannot police itself.” The report also claims that, in many of these cases, the church never called law enforcement or the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to report the abuse.
The attorney general’s office opened the investigation in August 2018, after a Pennsylvania grand jury report was released which revealed over 1,000 victims and implicated around 300 priests. Madigan’s office has reviewed thousands of pages of documents and conducted numerous interviews to examine the church’s internal review process as well as particular cases. As a result of the investigation, all six of Illinois’ dioceses have published such lists, which investigators found to be willfully incomplete. The office claims that nearly 75 percent of cases were either not investigated or not sustained, often after the offending priest died or resigned of his own accord.
Aside from the investigation itself, the Attorney General has opened a hotline for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, which includes services even for those who can no longer pursuit their case legally due to the statute of limitations.
Similar investigations have spread to over 45 states with numerous dioceses being forced to file bankruptcy due to related legal costs and payouts to victims. A vote aimed at adopting superior reporting measures and an updated code of conduct for priests was scheduled to have taken place last month at a conference in Baltimore, but was delayed by direct papal intervention.