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Illinois Catholic Church Undercounted Sex Cases

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said Tuesday that the Archdiocese of Chicago and the rest of the Catholic church in Illinois failed to acknowledge hundreds of allegedly abusive priests and other religious figures, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. “Before this investigation, the Catholic dioceses of Illinois publicly listed only 103 substantiated child sex abusers,” Raoul said in a 696-page report. “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 of Illinois.” Asked whether church officials had lied in not making public that the extent of clergy sex abuse was more than what they reported, Raoul said at a news conference Tuesday, “I think the numbers sort of speak for themselves.”

In August 2018, Cardinal Blase Cupich said the church had nothing to hide and vowed publicly, "we are not what happened in the grand jury in Pennsylvania," where an investigation found more than 300 Catholic clergy members there had molested more than 1,000 kids over the preceding decades. Yet Raoul’s agency found that the number of abusers and victims in the Catholic church in Illinois is “far greater than those reported by the Pennsylvania grand jury.” Raoul’s office reviewed more than 100,000 pages of records from the six main arms of the church in Illinois. Raoul said his office fielded more than 600 “confidential contacts from survivors” during the investigation. Some of the abusive clergy already had been known to church authorities. Others weren’t and were found through the investigation. Raoul’s report said, “Decades of Catholic leadership decisions and policies have allowed known child sex abusers to hide, often in plain sight.” Raoul pointed to changes in church practices because of his agency’s investigation, including more public accounting, but said more still needs to change. In a recorded reply to the AG's report, the cardinal complained that authorities had unfairly singled out the church for scrutiny and suggested the had miscounted.


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