Catholic churches publicly report a fraction of sexual abuse allegations

Target 3

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– The number of sexual abuse accusations made public by Catholic churches in Illinois is a fourth of the total number, according to Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

An investigation launched by Former Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2018 discovered Catholic churches kept at least 500 sexual abuse accusations a secret.

Source: Illinois Attorney General’s office

At the time, only 185 clergy members in the state were publicly identified as being “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse.

Madigan announced her investigation in August 2018, and by December, the state discovered those 500 undisclosed cases, bringing the total number of allegations up to about 690.

Click on the press release for a link to the full update

Thursday, WCIA’s Target 3 investigative team found out the number of undisclosed cases doubled since 2018. That came to light in an interview with Raoul, marking the first public update on this project in three years.

“These are people who have suffered the worst abuse imaginable,” the current Attorney General shared.

He said this is very much an ongoing investigation.

Illinois clergy have now publicized 251 “credible” abuse cases. That falls far short of the at least 1,000 allegations the AG’s office knows of.

“Prior to our investigation, if there was a dead priest, you know, they would close the book on that, instead of fully investigating that,” Raoul explained.

“If it was settled, there wouldn’t be a full investigation.”

Some of the allegations found are recent, others date as far back as the 1950s and ’60s.

“We spoke to, you know, well over 100 people over the course of the investigation, including survivors and the church,” the attorney general shared.

It’s unclear how many of the about 1,000 accusations have been substantiated. Some cases from years ago are being reported for the very first time.

Because of statutes of limitation on sexual abuse cases, legally, justice is not possible in some cases.

Those statutes were abolished recently. Cases occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2020, can be tried anytime in the future.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.