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Illinois AG: Clergy sex abuse of children was far more common than church had acknowledged

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CHICAGO (AP) – The Illinois attorney general on Tuesday released the results of a sweeping investigation into allegations of sex abuse by Catholic priests, saying investigators found 451 priests sexually abused nearly 2,000 children since the 1950s. – far more than the 103 individuals the church named when the state review began in 2018.

At a news conference announcing his office’s findings, Attorney General Kwame Raoul credited the accusers for making the review possible. He said state investigators found that 1,997 children were abused statewide by clergy between 1950 and 2019.

Raoul said, “I hope this report will shine a light on those who violated their positions of power and trust to abuse innocent children, and on the men in church leadership who covered up this 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 those survivors who have suffered in silence for too long.” Are.”

according to a preliminary investigation Raoul’s predecessor, governed by the dioceses of the kingdom Only 26% of the charges he received were considered to be “reliable”, while either not being investigated or the remaining 74% being considered unsubstantiated.

The Network of Survivors of People Abused by Clergy called the report “surprising” but stressed that the number of victims and abusers cited by state investigators is likely an undercount.

In a statement released Tuesday, The Survivors Network of the Abused by Priests called the report “surprising” but stressed that the numbers of victims and abusers cited by state investigators are likely an undercount.

“There is no questioning the facts of the report – until 2018 when the investigation began, the hierarchy in every Illinois diocese kept the abusers under wraps, refused to add them to their accused lists, and accepted this fact. refused to do that to share a report with survivors of abuse who came forward,” the statement said. It is, in a word, disgusting to us that these cowboys would lie so blatantly .

A preliminary report conducted under Raoul’s predecessor, Lisa Madigan, found that six dioceses of the church had done an inadequate job of investigating the allegations, and in some cases did not investigate them at all or did not notify the state child welfare agency. Did. The abuse claims are decades old and were made against some priests who have since died, but the initial report did not include some key details such as when the allegations were made.

The Madigan Report did not accuse dioceses of withholding the names of clergy whom the Church believed to be “credibly” accused or against whom claims of abuse were “proven”—the Church’s own investigative standard. However, it was pointed out that the overall list of accused clergy was much longer than the list made public by the Church.

Similar government-led investigations detailing reports of sexual abuse by clergy and the failure of church leaders to hold perpetrators accountable have rocked archdiocese in other states, including Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Madigan’s office said the problems went beyond a lack of effort by the church, and that in some cases, the church sought to act against the accusers.

Illinois church leaders expressed regret about the abuse at the time, but pointed to steps they had taken to address what has become an international crisis to the church.

Madigan said in 2018 that it was important to inform authorities and pointed to instances in which dioceses used personal information about people to discredit them and their accusers.

“The early stages of this investigation have already demonstrated that the Catholic Church cannot govern itself,” he said.

Similar government-led investigations detailing reports of clergy sexual abuse and the failure of church leaders to hold perpetrators accountable have rocked archdiocese in other states. Pennsylvania And Maryland,

In its statement Tuesday, SNAP also asked other attorneys general and prosecutors under their authority to launch similar investigations of Catholic dioceses.

“For many survivors, this kind of secular investigation will open up an arena for new conversation, healing among fellow victims, and for communities to understand the horrors of their past and the perils of their present,” the group said. “When the legal system fails to provide justice to victims, statewide investigations can help communicate needed facts about the global crisis of child sexual abuse to citizens and survivors.”