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Office of the Illinois Attorney General: 2023 Report on Catholic Clergy Child Sex Abuse in Illinois

This report contains descriptions of child sex abuse, assault, and trauma. Resources for survivors of child sex abuse can be found on the Resources page of this site.

Message from the Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raul

The following report represents the conclusion of my office’s multi-year investigation into child sex abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in the six dioceses across Illinois – the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield. This investigation began in the latter half of 2018 on the heels of a Pennsylvania grand jury report finding that more than 300 Catholic clerics had abused more than 1,000 children in the Commonwealth over the prior 70 years. Even before being sworn into office, I committed to continue the investigation my predecessor initiated.

Over the course of this investigation, two goals remained at its core: first, to obtain a full accounting of substantiated child sex abuse committed by Catholic clergy in Illinois and provide a complete public report of substantiated abusers; and second, to give voice to survivors in an attempt to contribute to their healing journey. To these ends, my attorneys and investigators examined thousands of diocesan files, reviewing more than 100,000 pages of documents held by the dioceses. They spent countless hours engaged in interviews and conversations with diocesan leadership and representatives. And over the course of this investigation, my office received more than 600 confidential contacts from survivors through emails, letters, voicemail messages, interviews, and phone calls. My investigation team treated each allegation with the respect it deserved and followed leads as they arose to ensure we conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation. To build the most compelling portion of this report, my team worked closely with survivors to draft narrative accounts of their experiences as children sexually abused by clerics. Without those survivors who bravely came forward to share their experiences and perspectives, neither the investigation nor this report would feel complete. I express my sincerest gratitude to each of those survivors, and to the others who contacted my office, for their deeply personal contributions.

The Attorney General’s report is available in English.
Portions of the report are available in Spanish and Polish.


In the late summer of 2018, a Pennsylvania grand jury found that more than 300 Catholic clerics (ordained bishops, priests, and deacons) ministering in the Commonwealth sexually abused over 1,000 children during the prior 70 years. Soon after the grand jury released its report, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago penned a letter describing the “anger, shock, grief, and shame” he felt upon “learning about the devastating revelations of sexual abuse—and the failures of bishops to safeguard the children entrusted to their care—published in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.” Bishop Daniel R. Conlon, then of the Diocese of Joliet, termed the Pennsylvania numbers “staggering.” He found it “alarming to realize the extent to which some of my brother bishops and priests have failed to uphold their obligations to care for the people.” Along those same lines, Bishop Edward K. Braxton, then of the Diocese of Belleville, thought the Pennsylvania grand jury’s findings “deeply disturbing,” causing “anger, frustration, disappointment, and bewilderment in the minds and hearts of Catholic laity and clergy.” Consistent with the reactions of these Illinois Catholic leaders, shock waves were felt across the nation as a result of the Pennsylvania report. Attorneys General from multiple states, including Illinois, announced investigations into child sex abuse by Catholic clerics.

Long Term Harms

Nearly every survivor interviewed by Attorney General investigators reported struggling with some form of mental health challenge in the years after the abuse.

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Scroll of Abusive Clerics/Brothers



Terms are defined as provided in the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops Glossary of Catholic Terms, unless denoted with *.

Altar server
Individuals, usually children, who assist clerics during liturgical functions such as mass. Prior to 1994, only men and boys were permitted to be altar servers.*
The title given automatically to bishops who govern archdioceses. It is also given to certain other high-ranking church officials.
The chief diocese of an ecclesiastical province. It is governed by an archbishop.
Auxiliary Bishop
A bishop assigned to a Catholic diocese or archdiocese to assist its residential bishop.
The highest order of ordained ministry in the Catholic Church. The chief priests in their respective dioceses. Bishops are responsible for the pastoral care of their dioceses. All bishops have a responsibility to act in council with other bishops to guide the church.
A man who has taken vows in a religious order but is not ordained or studying for the priesthood. Sometimes he is called a lay brother to distinguish him from ordained members of religious orders.
Canon Law

A code of ecclesiastical laws governing the Catholic Church.

Highest-ranking Catholic clergy below the pope. Cardinals are regarded as the pope's closest advisors. Most cardinals are archbishops.
The chief archivist of a diocese's official records. Also a notary and secretary of the diocese’s central administration.
Clergy is a collective term referring to all those ordained—bishops, priests, and deacons—who administer the rites of the church. A cleric is an individual member of the clergy. Only men are permitted to join the clergy.
Confession or Reconciliation
The Catholic sacrament in which one makes a voluntary self-accusation of sins to a qualified priest in private in order to obtain absolution. The priest provides the confessor, also known as the penitent, with a penance to atone for sins committed. A priest who hears confession is forbidden from disclosing the contents of a confession to others under what is called the seal of confession.*
The personnel and offices through which (1) the pope administers the affairs of the universal church (the Roman Curia), or (2) a bishop administers the affairs of a diocese (the diocesan curia). The principal officials of a diocesan curia are the vicar general, the chancellor, officials of the diocesan tribunal or court, examiners, consultors, auditors, and notaries.
Dallas Charter
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People sets forth policies for each United States archdiocese and diocese to adopt as part of an effort to address allegations of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. The Charter was formulated at the 2002 meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas, Texas. The Charter was revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018.
One of three groups that comprise the clergy, meaning those ordained for ministry. Only men are permitted to become deacons. Deacons preparing for the priesthood are transitional deacons. Those not planning to be ordained priests are called permanent deacons. Married men may be ordained permanent deacons, but only unmarried men committed to lifelong celibacy can be ordained deacons if they are planning to become priests.
Diocesan Priest
Priests under the direction of their local bishop. Most serve in the parishes of the diocese, but they may also be assigned to other diocesan ministries or released for service outside the diocese.
A territorial division of the Church headed by a bishop.
Extern Priest
A priest with faculties to minister in a diocese or archdiocese who was not ordained in that diocese or archdiocese. For example, a diocesan priest from the Diocese of Springfield who has been granted faculties to minister by the Archdiocese of Chicago is an extern priest.*
Church authorization, given by the law itself or by a Church superior, to perform certain official acts.
Members of the Catholic Church. Derived from Catholic teachings that clergy are like shepherds guiding a flock.*
Laicize or Defrock
The process by which a priest is returned to the lay state. It is sometimes used as a penalty for a serious crime, but also can come at the request of the priest. A laicized priest is barred from all priestly ministry with one exception: He may give absolution to someone in immediate danger of death. The pope must approve all requests for laicization. When a priest is laicized without his consent for a crime, such as committing child sexual abuse, it is sometimes called defrocking.
Any activity conducive to the salvation of souls. It can include ordained ministry such as liturgical leadership and administration of the sacraments, or lay ministry such as instructing children in the faith, serving the poor, visiting the sick, or being an altar server, reader, or music leader at mass.
An honorary ecclesiastical title granted by the pope to some diocesan priests.
A member of a religious order of women who has taken solemn or simple vows.
Ordination is the sacramental ceremony in which a man becomes a deacon, priest, or bishop. A cleric who has undergone ordination is known as ordained.*
A specific community within a diocese with its own church building and under the authority of a pastor who is responsible for providing ministerial service. Most parishes are formed on a geographic basis, but they may be formed along national or ethnic lines.
A priest in charge of a Catholic parish or congregation.
Acts performed to atone for committed sins, as directed by a priest in the Catholic sacrament of reconcilliation.*
Residential housing for clergy provided by the Church. A rectory can also contain administrative offices for a parish.*
Religious Cleric
Professed member of a religious order or institute. Religious clergy live according to the rule of their respective orders.
Religious Order or Order
An institution of men or women, at least some of whose members take solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and whose male members are sometimes ordained.*
An educational institution for men preparing for the priesthood.
A cleric who acts in the name of another cleric.*
Vicar general
A priest, auxiliary bishop, or coadjutor bishop who assists the diocesan bishop in the governance of the diocese.
Victims Assistance Coordinator

A diocesan employee who has been designated to coordinate assistance to survivors of sex abuse by clerics.*