On Tuesday, a buffet of attorneys representing sexually abused victims, allegedly at the hands of clergy members, released a report identifying the perpetrator priests from the archdiocese of Chicago and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield.
Jeff Anderson, an experienced attorney who operates Jeff Anderson & Associates PA law firm that specializes in representing sexually abused victims, in allegiance with Frost Pearlman, released the list of 395 alleged sexual predator priests in Illinois. Victims who were abused since 1983 to present time seek justice after the church purposely exposed them to the clergy predators and later silenced them as they protected the abusers.
The report states:
The data reveal the horrifying scale of priests sexually assaulting minors to the present day. The data collected illustrate the patterns and practices of Diocesan and Religious officials, including orchestrating an institutional cover-up of enormous magnitude. Perhaps most shocking among the discoveries is that some perpetrators were intentionally transferred and retained in trusted positions with direct access to children even after they were known to sexually abuse children. Modern means of analysis and availability of data through the Internet, social media, and public information is exposing perpetrators who operated in these Dioceses, but until full transparency and accountability exist, children remain in grave danger.
Historically, the Archdiocese and Dioceses in Illinois, like many other archdioceses and dioceses, knew of predator priests who posed a significant danger to children. The sexual abuse of children has long been a crime in Illinois. However, Diocesan and Religious Order officials chose and continue to keep these crimes hidden, allowing their priests continued and unfettered access to children. During the 1980s and 1990s, occasional bits of information about abuse within Catholic institutions surfaced, but the Catholic Church’s strict policy of secrecy kept important information and the full extent of the problem hidden from the public. This has continued despite mandated reporting laws.
In August 2018, after the wake of the Pennsylvania scandal where 301 predator priests were found guilty for abusing more than 1,000 victims, the State of Illinois Office of the then Attorney General Lisa Madigan launched an investigation into the cover-up of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. During the first 4 months of the investigation, the Office of Attorney General found:
• The scope of the problem of clergy sexual abuse of minors in Illinois is significantly
more extensive than the Illinois Dioceses have reported
• Illinois Dioceses disregarded survivors and failed to investigate allegations of clergy
• Increased transparency is necessary for accountability and healing
• The processes and practices put in place by the Illinois Dioceses to respond to clergy
sexual abuse are flawed
• The investigatory processes deployed by the Illinois Dioceses fail to prioritize the
survivor and provide healing
• Illinois Dioceses will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own.
However, Jeff Anderson’s finding of 395 alleged predators was actually a smaller amount than found by the former Attorney General Madigan. After launching the investigation, 680 clergy members were accused by alleged victims where only 185 clergy were publicly identified as being “credibly” accused of sexual abuse.
“There are likely hundreds of alleged perpetrators within the Dioceses and religious orders in Illinois whose names have never been made public,” said Jeff Anderson in his report, “The fight for information and the names of those alleged perpetrators continues.”