Lawyers release list of Illinois Catholic clergy accused of sexual misconduct

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Thursday, March 21, 2019
Lawyers release list of Illinois Catholic clergy accused of sexual misconduct
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On Wednesday, attorneys released a 185-page report that includes background information and work histories of 395 priests and lay people accused in the state's six dioceses.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Attorneys for clergy sex abuse victims released a new report Wednesday detailing all the Illinois priests who they say have been publicly accused of sexual abuse.

Officials from the Archdiocese of Chicago argue that this compilation contains accusations that are unsubstantiated or that have already been reported to authorities.


The lawyers released the 180-page report that includes background information and work histories of 395 priests and lay people accused and connected to the state's six dioceses.

Attorney Marc Pearlman said this is the first time such a comprehensive Illinois list has been compiled. The report primarily aggregates previously reported information about those who have been previously publicly accused of abuse.

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"They have destroyed my foundation for morality, and values for trust," said abuse victim Joe Iacono. He was 11 years old when he says he was abused by his parish priest whose name is listed in Thursday's report.

"The purpose of this report is to disclose the scope of the peril that the Catholic Bishops have chosen not to disclose and keep secret," said Jeff Anderson, church sex abuse victims' attorney.

Anderson said the list includes clergy and laypeople who have been publicly accused of abuse. The Archdiocese of Chicago says it already releases the names of every member of the clergy who's had a substantiated allegation against them and turns over the names of those accused to law enforcement.

However, archdiocesan officials admit that they have not published the names of 22 priests on Anderson's list because they say the claims against them are unsubstantiated allegations. Fourteen of those accused clerics are dead.

"These names were not secret," said John O'Malley, the Archdiocese of Chicago's special counsel. "There was not effort to conceal them, they were all reported to authorities."

The archdiocese has previously published a list of 77 clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against minors. They say the additional names the Anderson report connects to Chicago are priests of other dioceses that may have served in Chicago at some point.



"Chicago's child protection program is well beyond a list of names," said Mary Jane Doerr, the Archdiocese of Chicago's director of the Office for the Protection of Children and Youth, during a press conference. She continued, "Chicago is one of the strongest child protection efforts out there."

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"What's frustrating to me is the lists represent the past and it wasn't a really good past but we don't do that anymore. That's not what's going on today. Today, all allegations are taken seriously. Any victim who comes forward is given pastoral outreach and care and help in making the allegation and children are protected broadly in our schools and religious ed programs," Doerr said.

Archdiocese of Chicago says all allegations of abuse are reported to police. Despite that, victims' attorneys say in most cases by the time a victim comes forward and the abuse is reported, the statute of limitations has run out and it's too late to charge someone. Attorneys say that doesn't mean a crime was not committed.

"If they are relying on law enforcement and law enforcement chooses not to charge if that's not appropriate and using the wrong standard," said Pearlman.


Today Anderson & Associates released the names of clerics and laypeople they say have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors and have served in one or more of the six Illinois dioceses. The Archdiocese of Chicago reports all allegations we receive to the civil authorities. In addition to the priests listed on the Archdiocese's website, we have identified 22 priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago on Anderson & Associates' list.

The Archdiocese has reported 20 of these clerics to the civil authorities; in one of the remaining two cases, the Archdiocese first received notice when the cleric was arrested, and in the other it was an allegation of misconduct with an adult, not a minor. The attached chart details the circumstances surrounding these 22 allegations and disposition of those cases.

Priests with substantiated allegations are listed on the Archdiocese's website.

The Archdiocese of Chicago does not "police itself." It reports all allegations to the civil authorities, regardless of the date of the alleged abuse, whether the priest is a diocesan priest or religious order priest, and whether the priest is alive or dead.

When an allegation against an archdiocesan cleric is made and before any investigation begins, the archdiocesan Office of Assistance Ministry promptly reaches out to the person making the allegation and offers therapy at archdiocesan expense from a licensed therapist of the person's choosing. The Archdiocese withdraws the accused priest from ministry pending investigation of the allegation and publicly announces this action.

After the civil authorities have completed their investigation, the Archdiocese conducts its investigation.
The Independent Review Board, which considers the results of such investigations, was established in 1993. The majority of its members are laypeople. The Independent Review Board is the primary adviser to the archbishop on issues of risk to children and fitness for ministry.

Anderson & Associates conflates people who have been accused, but may be innocent, with those who have substantiated allegations against them, referring to all as perpetrators Their list includes:
  • a priest whose allegations were investigated by the public authorities and were determined to be unfounded. The Archdiocese's Independent Review Board also investigated and determined that the allegations were not substantiated. The priest was then returned to ministry.

  • two priests whose cases are under investigation; their cases were reported to the authorities and they have been withdrawn from ministry, pending the outcome of the investigation.

  • a seminarian (who was a transitional deacon) who was never ordained a priest.

  • a priest who was accused of misconduct with an adult, not a minor.

  • Many of the names listed by Anderson & Associates are religious order priests. We provide the following information to help clarify their governance:
    Dioceses and religious orders are separately governed entities in the Roman Catholic Church. Bishops govern dioceses; religious superiors govern religious orders. The bishop selects, trains, and supervises diocesan priests. The religious orders select, train and supervise their priests. The diocesan and religious order priests often do similar work, but each group is responsible to its own chain of authority (Canon 586). Disagreements between a bishop and a religious superior are referred to the Holy See for resolution.

    A bishop and a religious superior work cooperatively such as when a bishop grants faculties (a license) for a religious priest to work in a diocesan institution, such as a parish (Canon 678). Nevertheless, the religious order priest is still under the authority of his religious superior. Similarly, a bishop may revoke a religious order priest's faculties (a license) to work in the diocese. In that eventuality, the supervision and management of the order priests also remains the responsibility of his religious superior. In brief, a diocesan priest is the responsibility of the diocese and a religious priest is the responsibility of the religious order.

    If the Archdiocese of Chicago receives an allegation that a religious priest has engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor, the archdiocese reports it to the civil authorities, publicly withdraws the priest's faculties to work in the archdiocese, and refers the matter to his religious superior.
    Religious superiors have the same obligation and responsibility as bishops to adhere to the terms set forth in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.





    Pope Francis celebrated a final Mass at the Vatican on Feb. 24, 2019 to conclude his summit of Catholic leaders summoned for a tutorial on preventing clergy sexual abuse.
    Giuseppe Lami/Pool Photo via AP


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    WLS-TV contributed to this report.