Have You Been Injured? We're Ready to Fight for You.

Nearly 2,000 Children Sexually Abused by Catholic Clergy in Illinois

Published on Jun 2, 2023 by Thomas Law Offices.

Nearly 2,000 Children Sexually Abused by Catholic Clergy in Illinois
Illinois Attorney General (AG) Kwame Raoul announced on May 23, 2023, that his office had completed an investigation that identified at least 1,997 children abused by an estimated 451 male Catholic clergy during a 90-year period across six dioceses in our state. The multi-year investigation first got underway while the current Illinois AG’s predecessor was in office in 2018. Investigators with the state agency have since conducted at least 600 interviews with victims and 100,000 or more documents as part of their work on this case.

Details regarding this impropriety, including the following, are detailed in the AG’s report entitled Report on Catholic Clergy Child Sex Abuse in Illinois 2023:

  • The most current listing of the alleged perpetrators of the abuse
  • Accounts of the type of sexual abuse inflicted upon the minors

The report concludes with a call for dioceses to be more proactive in publicly disclosing any known abuse and outlines the AG’s desire to see that these Illinois Catholic Church sexual abuse allegations continue to be investigated and victims provided with enhanced supportive care.

Where Did This Abuse Allegedly Occur?

Investigators believe the religious brothers and clerics who perpetuated this alleged abuse hailed from the following Illinois archdioceses or dioceses. The numbers next to those dioceses below reflect how many religious brothers or clerics investigators identified as having sexually abused youth.

  • Archdiocese of Chicago: 275
  • Diocese of Joliet: 69
  • Diocese of Peoria: 51
  • Diocese of Belleville: 43
  • Diocese of Springfield: 32
  • Diocese of Rockford: 24

State Attorney General (AG) investigators also found that many of the clergymen identified often worked in multiple dioceses throughout our state.

Issues Over Public Disclosures of Abusers’ Names

At the press conference to announce the release of its report, the Illinois AG’s said its investigators found that dioceses hadn’t yet publicly disclosed 149 or less of the 451 alleged abusers and that additional disclosures were continuing to be made still. AG office investigators deemed the Diocese of Rockford to be the only one among the above-referenced ones to have fully disclosed all alleged perpetrators’ names.

It’s thought that the discrepancy in the number of reports has to do with how the AG’s office and the Church classify claims. For example, the only ones publicized by the diocese are ones where the clergymen actually admitted to taking advantage of their position of trust to sexually abuse children.

How Illinois Dioceses Reacted to Reports of Abuse

Each diocese, with the exception of the one in Joliet, issued statements reacting to the release of the AG’s report. Their responses were as follows:

  • The Archbishop of Chicago: He and another Cardinal with the archdiocese expressed concern over what happened but dismissed and pointed out how they’d already identified, publicly acknowledged, and reported perpetrators of abuse to civil officials since at least 2002 and categorically denied that they’d underreported abuse claims. Archdioceses representatives also mentioned that they’ve always cooperated with law enforcement by making its documents and employees available to investigators. They also said they would continue to implement policies suggested by the AG’s office to ensure adequate handling of similar allegations.
  • The Diocese of Springfield: Said that the report is a reminder of the “shameful and disgraceful sins” committed by some of its clergy members against innocent individuals.
  • The Diocese of Rockford: Issued an apology for the pain its clergy’s actions had caused victims.
  • The Diocese of Peoria: Mentioned that it has implemented new approaches for making the Church a safer place for children since learning of the allegations.
  • The Diocese of Belleville: Noted that they believe that all known abusers have been relieved of their duties and that it’s continuing to address the consequences of the child sexual abuse.

What the Illinois Attorney General Expects From This Investigation

As for his part, our state’s AG mentioned at the press conference announcing the report’s publication that as a Catholic who sent his children to religious schools, he likes to think of his Church as being there for those in need. He noted that just like any other institution, he believes we must hold those responsible for indiscretions accountable for their wrongful actions. He described the above-referenced Illinois dioceses as violating “the public’s trust.”

While the AG went on to say that he doesn’t believe many of those individuals responsible for the abuse that occurred will be held criminally liable for their actions, he hopes that making the names of those responsible public will provide victims with some semblance of healing from what they went through as children at clergy member’s hands.

Long-Term Impacts of Child Sexual Abuse

According to the non-profit Helping Survivors of Sexual Abuse & Assault, child sexual abuse or molestation can have many long-term effects on victims, including:

  • Interpersonal issues like difficulty building quality relationships due to trust issues and sexual dysfunction
  • Mental health concerns such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression
  • The emergence of risky behaviors such as sexual promiscuity or unprotected sex, eating disorders, and substance abuse
  • Revictimization

The organization’s research also shows that sexual abuse victims have marked higher rates of medical conditions such as:

  • Teen pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Obesity
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Dental issues
  • Liver, lung, and heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Much more

Options You Have If You Were Sexually Abused by Catholic Clergy in Illinois

Our state’s laws allow individuals who suffered harm due to another person’s negligence to file civil suits in an attempt to recover damages for any harm they’ve suffered because of someone else’s actions. And our Chicago area law firm has a solid track record of holding sexual abusers accountable for their actions—especially when the criminal legal system doesn’t.

Timelines matter in sexual abuse cases like these. It can make a difference in whether you’re able to secure the necessary evidence to substantiate claims about how abuse has adversely impacted your life. There’s also a statute of limitations that applies to all civil matters. Once that expires, you may be unable to take legal action.

Your initial first best step is to call or email us to schedule a free initial consultation with a sexual assault attorney in our Chicago office. During the course of that meeting, the lawyer should be able to counsel you as to your rights and the best course of action available to you to ensure some semblance of justice is served. So, reach out to us now.

Free Case Evaluation

At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

Call us or fill out the form below to tell us about your potential case and a personal injury lawyer will get back to you as quickly as possible.

Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

Legal & Firm News

What Does MMI Mean in Workers’ Compensation?

A workplace injury can occur in the office or the construction site. According to data compiled by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, there were 38,600 nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses in 2021 across Kentucky’s private industries. At some point, every one of those injuries reached the maximum medical improvement (MMI). What does the […]

Read More

Can Medical Errors Cause PTSD?

When you suffer negligence at the hands of a medical provider, obvious physical issues arise in the aftermath. Your illness is worse instead of better, or you have a new injury that you didn’t have before. The stress and frustration of your situation might feel overwhelming and unstoppable, and you may begin to feel symptoms […]

Read More

5 Strategies To Keep Your Loved Ones Safe in the Hospital

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as many as 35.5 million hospitalizations occur in the United States annually. Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comparing hospitalization rates among 1-64-year-olds between 2009 and 2018 shows that just 5.2% of Americans in that age range were […]

Read More
Tad Thomas on The National Crime Victim Bar Association
National Civil Justice Institute - Trustee
Tad Thomas on Lawyer Minds
Tad Thomas on American Association for Justice
Southern Trial Lawyers Association
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Ohio Association for Justice
Kentucky Justice Association
Fellows of the Litigation Counsel of America
Martindale Hubbell Preeminent
2021 Public Justice Member
AAJ Masters of Trial Law: Champion