Message from the Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul
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.
As a direct result of this investigation and my team’s persistence, the dioceses have improved their policies relating to their investigations of child sex abuse allegations and the public disclosure of substantiated child sex abusers. Before this investigation, the Catholic dioceses of Illinois publicly listed only 103 substantiated child sex abusers. By comparison, 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. As explained in the recommendations section of this report, more work remains, but this investigation resulted in significant steps forward in the dioceses’ policies relating to investigations, disclosure and transparency, and survivor care and communications.
Decades of Catholic leadership decisions and policies have allowed known child sex abusers to hide, often in plain sight. And because the statute of limitations has frequently expired, many survivors of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic clerics will never see justice in a legal sense. It is my hope that this report will shine light both 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. These perpetrators may never be held accountable in a court of law, but by naming them here, the intention is to provide a public accountability and a measure of healing to survivors who have long suffered in silence.