Lawyers Release List of Nearly 400 Accused Illinois Catholic Clergy

Attorney Mark Pearlman says this is the first time such a comprehensive Illinois list has been compiled

Attorneys who have represented clergy abuse victims across the United States released a report that lists the names of every Catholic priest and lay person in Illinois who has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct. 

On Wednesday, the 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. 

Attorney Mark Pearlman says this is the first time such a comprehensive Illinois list has been compiled. It aggregates previously reported information and it's not clear how much is new. 

"This report is just the beginning," said attorney Jeff Anderson. 

Advocates say the list is far more extensive than the names already released by the state's six dioceses. 

Anderson and Pearlman said the disparity shows church leaders continue to conceal the scope of the clergy abuse crisis. They say that of the 395 names on the list being released Wednesday, only one is a priest still in active ministry. 

Dioceses throughout the state say they have taken major steps to address clergy abuse, including publishing the names of all credibly accused members of the clergy and reporting every allegation they receive to police. The new list pulls names from lawsuits, news articles and other public sources.

In light of Anderson & Associates' released list, the Archdiocese of Chicago said it has identified 22 priests on the list and reported 20 of them to civil authorities. One of the remaining clerics was already arrested and the final remaining case involved an adult, not a minor, they said. 

"The Archdiocese of Chicago does not 'police itself,'" the archdiocese said in a statement. "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."

According to the Chicago archdiocese, many of the names listed in the recent release are "religious order priests," which are "separately governed entities in the Roman Catholic Church." 

The Diocese of Joliet said all of the allegations involving its area have already been reported to law enforcement authorities. 

"In addition to those priests already listed on our website, the list published by Attorney Anderson includes the names of some diocesan priests, living and deceased, who have been accused of abuse, but the claim was unsubstantiated or deemed not credible by the Diocese of Joliet Review Board, or the claim did not involve child abuse," said Dioces of Joliet said in a statement. "In addition to the investigation and conclusion by the Diocese of Joliet Review Board, each of these claims was forwarded to the civil authorities for investigation and potential prosecution."

The Diocese of Springfield and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki offered their "profound sadness and deep sorrow for the shameful wrongs and evils perpetrated during a dark chapter" in church history. 

"The extreme hurt some of our clergy caused decades ago is a disgrace, and it grieves all of us to see the suffering these sins have caused," Diocese of Springfield spokesperson Andrew Hansen said in a statement. "The Diocese of Springfield pledges continued efforts to bring healing to the victims and survivors of this evil." 

The group said the names of 19 priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, none of whom are in active ministry, and 13 of whome are deceased, have already been published. 

"Mr. Anderson claims that many credibly accused priests are still active in ministry, although there are none in the Springfield Diocese and Mr. Anderson was only able to identify one among his statewide list of nearly 400," Hansen's statement read. "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."

Hansen said while the report is an "impressive professional marketing brochure" it does not represent "a thorough and diligent review of the publicly available facts, and it is highly misleading and irresponsible." 

Anderson said the purpose of the report is to "let the public know who has been reported" and to "let survivors know they are not alone." 

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