Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul released a comprehensive report Tuesday naming over 450 child sex abusers within Catholic Church leadership in the state. The report follows a five-year investigation, which occurred following the large-scale revelations of child sexual abuse in Pennsylvania in 2018.
The report names and provides information for 451 Church leaders within Illinois that account for 1,997 counts of abuse. As many of the allegations are too old to pursue legal actions, the report gives a platform for survivors to tell their stories, including narrative accounts.
According to Raoul:
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.
An Illinois preliminary investigation in 2018 showed that the problem was much worse than the state believed, and launched a five-year investigation into the matter. Currently, no laws or reform efforts have been passed in Illinois to coincide with the report’s findings, but the report concludes with descriptions of recommended reform efforts to be enacted.
In 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court conducted an investigation and found that over the last seven decades there had been over 1,000 counts of child sexual abuse conducted by over 300 Church leaders in the state. Most counts were covered up by the Church, never to face legal consequences. This revelation led many other states to begin investigations into their own state dioceses.