Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal Worsens: List Names Nearly 400 Accused in Illinois
By Elyssa Cherney and Anna Kim
Attorneys who represent victims of sexual abuse by priests have released what they say is the most comprehensive list yet of Catholic clergy with ties to Illinois who have been accused of misconduct against children.
The list includes about 400 priests and lay people who at one time served in parishes or schools or otherwise worked in the state, with accusations spanning more than a half-century. That number far exceeds the roughly 200 priests who already have been publicly identified by Illinois' six Catholic dioceses, including the Chicago Archdiocese.
"The data reveal the horrifying scale of priests sexually assaulting minors to the present day," the report said. "Perhaps most shocking among the discoveries is that some perpetrators were intentionally transferred and retained in trusted positions with direct access to children even after they were known to sexually abuse children."
Many of the priests named in the new report already have been publicly identified in news stories and court records, even if they don't appear on dioceses' official lists. The dioceses generally used different standards for publicly identifying priests, in some cases omitting clergy when claims against them could not be substantiated or when an allegation was made after the priest died.
The new study, called the Anderson Report, takes a broader approach, including any priest, seminarian or religious employee -- in some cases of Catholic orders outside the dioceses -- who has ever been accused of child sexual abuse, regardless of whether the claim was found credible or the alleged abuse occurred in Illinois. The authors note that in many cases settlements were paid to victims, but in numerous other cases the alleged abuses were never substantiated in court, sometimes because a statute of limitations prevented lawsuits or criminal investigations from moving forward.
"We have chosen to reveal this information because the Catholic bishops and the religious orders, who are in charge and have this information and hold it secret, have chosen to conceal it," said attorney Jeff Anderson.
John O'Malley, who serves as special counsel to the Chicago Archdiocese on misconduct issues, contests the report's claim that church officials have not been transparent in disclosing priests known to be predatory. He said all allegations contained in the report already were reported to and investigated by law enforcement.
"When an allegation comes in and the priest is in ministry, he is withdrawn from ministry and put on leave pending a resolution," O'Malley said. He added that, in such cases, the parish is notified, and the archdiocese puts out a media release.
"Those are very public moments, so we're not hiding this issue," O'Malley said.
In separate responses to the Anderson Report, the Diocese of Springfield questioned the study's accuracy because it said the whereabouts of several diocese priests were unknown, even though the diocese has confirmed their deaths.
"The facts are clear in the Diocese of Springfield that the majority of instances of abuse occurred more than 30 years ago, and only one instance has occurred in the past 20 years," spokesman Andrew Hansen said in a statement.
A Chicago leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Larry Antonsen, said he's not surprised by the number of priests named in the report.
He noted that the report includes photographs of the accused priests and their work history, which Antonsen said is important because it can help jog victims' memories and encourage them to speak out.
"I believe that telling your story to somebody ... is the beginning of healing," Antonsen said. "The more you keep it in, it just eats away at you and eats away at you."
Still, the new report cites a much smaller number than the 690 priests that then-Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said her office identified in its own investigation last year into priest sexual abuse. Anderson hypothesized that Madigan's numbers were higher because the office set up a hotline to receive reports directly from victims.
Madigan began looking into priest sexual abuse after a report in Pennsylvania revealed widespread abuse and cover-ups not before known. Her preliminary report was critical of the Illinois dioceses' handling of abuse allegations, saying their investigations were sometimes flawed and lacked transparency, but her office did not release a full list of accused priests.
The victims' advocates who released Wednesday's new report, Anderson and Chicago attorney Marc Pearlman, said at the time that they wouldpublish their own set of names if Illinois officials did not make their list public. The attorneys have released similar lists in other areas of the country, though Anderson said this is the first statewide report of this kind he has compiled.
The Illinois list includes only one priest who is still in active ministry, Anderson said. In that case, the priest was reinstated in 2014 after an investigation by law enforcement and child welfare officials found two separate allegations unsubstantiated, according to the Chicago Archdiocese.
Additionally, one priest is under investigation and has been removed from ministry since January while authorities investigate the alleged abuse of a minor in 1979, according to the archdiocese.
Madigan's successor, Kwame Raoul, issued a statement before he took office in January saying he remained committed to continuing the investigation. His office has not released further information, citing the ongoing inquiry.
On Wednesday, Raoul's office released a statement saying it "will review any new information that could be relevant" to the investigation.
O'Malley said the church has reported all allegations to law enforcement since 1992, when Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin led a commission on the sexual abuse scandal. In 2002, U.S. bishops adopted the policy nationwide.
"If the public authorities choose not to prosecute or can't prosecute, we then have our own investigative process," O'Malley said Wednesday. "If, as a result of the public authorities, or if as a result of our own process, an allegation is substantiated, it has been posted on our website with a description since 2006."
At that time, the practice of dioceses publishing names of priests who had substantiated allegations against them was much less common than it is now.
A statement Wednesday from the Chicago Archdiocese said it found 22 clerics named in the Anderson Report who are not included in the list the archdiocese has provided online. Of those, 20 already were reported to civil authorities, one came to the attention of the archdiocese when the priest was arrested and one involved an allegation of misconduct involving an adult, not a minor, the statement said.
The sexual abuse scandal has roiled the church for decades, but it received renewed attention last year after a sweeping grand jury report in Pennsylvania identified more than 300 predator priests. In response to the report, Madigan launched her own investigation in August.
In December, the attorney general said her preliminary findings indicated that 690 clergy members were accused of abuse, but the Illinois dioceses had identified only 185 clergy at that time as having been "credibly accused." A few names have since been added to some of those public lists, and some Catholic religious orders, including the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit order, released their own lists of accused priests, brothers or lay people around the time Madigan's preliminary findings were unveiled.
Madigan's bombshell report also found that Illinois dioceses did not investigate allegations in many instances, including in some cases if a lawsuit had been filed, when a victim wanted to remain anonymous, when only one complainant came forward or if the clergy member had previously resigned. In cases in which the claim involved clergy who were visiting from a religious order, the allegations often were referred to the order rather than being investigated by the diocese, the Madigan report said.
O'Malley disputed that finding as it applied to the Chicago Archdiocese, saying all allegations had been forwarded to law enforcement over nearly three decades. He acknowledged the possibility that oversights occurred in other Illinois dioceses.
The list of credibly accused clergy members provided by the Chicago Archdiocese also does not include the names of those who had died before an allegation surfaced. The archdiocese also may not include a name if the priest was listed by a different diocese.
Anderson and Pearlman made a point to include those cases in theirs.
In one example, a priest who reportedly was ministering at St. Stanislaus Church in south suburban Posen between 1963 and 1964 was named in the Pennsylvania report. According to the grand jury report, the Rev. Raymond Lukac, who died in 2000, had a history of misconduct, including an allegation from when he served in the Diocese of Gary in Indiana. The report said the Archdiocese of Chicago requested information about Lukac in August 2006 after receiving a complaint that Lukac had sexually abused an 11-year-old girl between 1962 and 1964 in the St. Stanislaus rectory.
Asked why the Chicago Archdiocese does not include names of priests who have died before an allegation arises, O'Malley said the priest has no opportunity to defend himself.
"The church's policy has been to not include it for the reason that in the case of the deceased priest, there is no risk to children and there is no question of fitness of ministry," he said.
But Antonsen, of the victims advocacy group SNAP, said it's important for dioceses to be transparent about those who are accused of abuse, including clergy members who died before allegations were made, because it can inspire other victims to come forward.
Antonsen said Catholic Church leaders, including Pope Francis, aren't doing enough to hold abusers accountable. Despite the conference on sexual abuse at the Vatican in February, Antonsen said few officials have faced real consequences for covering up abuse allegations.
"The church never seems to do anything until they are absolutely forced to do it," he said.
Antonsen said he himself was sexually abused by a priest when he was a sophomore at St. Rita High School in Chicago in the 1960s. The priest, the late Rev. Michael P. Hogan, was a teacher at St. Rita and is named in the new report.
Antonsen said he reported the abuse in 2006 to the Archdiocese of Chicago but was told the archdiocese could not handle the investigation because Hogan was not a diocesan priest but belonged to the Order of St. Augustine. He said he took his allegation to the order and was told that Hogan, then in a nursing home, denied the claim but that the order offered to pay for two years of counseling, which he declined. He said he felt he was not believed, which he said "felt like a slap in the face."
Church leaders "really do not care about survivors. They don't realize what we live with every day," Antonsen said. "I still wake up almost every night with nightmares."
No one from the order could immediately be reached for comment.
After hearing of Madigan's report, Antonsen decided to try again and said he made a report to the attorney general's office in January. He was told the allegation would be reported to the police but said he's heard nothing more since.
Another man who said he was the victim of priest sexual abuse in the Chicago area appeared at a news conference Wednesday where the Anderson Report was released.
Joe Iacono, now 68, said he was abused in the 1960s by the late Rev. Thomas Kelly at St. John Vianney Catholic Church in west suburban Northlake. Kelly is included in the archdiocese's list of those credibly accused.
Iacono blamed the church for moving Kelly to a number of different parishes even though they knew he was dangerous. Iacono said it was powerful to see the long list of names and know he was not alone.
"Through (the church's) actions, they have destroyed my foundation for morality, for values, for trust," he said as he started to cry. "But all of that now has come back to me, and through therapy, through my loving wife."
Chicago Tribune's William Lee and Angie Leventis Lourgos contributed.
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