Illinois sex abuse investigation finds Catholic Church withheld names of at least 500 accused priests

A stunning new report on sexual abuse by priests in Illinois has determined that Catholic Church officials knowingly withheld from the public the names of at least 500 clergymen accused of misconduct.

Preliminary findings of an ongoing investigation by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan released Wednesday are the most scathing assessment yet of how the state's six Roman Catholic dioceses have handled sexual abuse allegations against priests and other clergy.

Madigan's highly critical report states that the Church has "failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behavior involving priests in Illinois." The attorney general's statement comes even as Catholic Church officials have touted their renewed transparency and freshly updated lists of priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

Madigan's preliminary report found that Illinois' six Roman Catholic dioceses "often disregarded allegations by not investigating the allegations, or finding reasons not to substantiate the allegations." The Attorney General's investigators wrote that the "dioceses also often found reasons to discredit survivors' stories of abuse by focusing on the survivors' personal lives" and that "based upon its review, the Office believes that additional allegations" of clergy sexual abuse "should be deemed 'credible' or 'substantiated' by the Illinois Dioceses."

The investigation also uncovered "multiple examples where the Illinois Dioceses failed to notify law enforcement or DCFS of allegations they received related to clergy sexual abuse against of minors."

Click here for a copy of Madigan's status report.

Madigan's harsh assessment of their transparency paints a far different picture of Church openness and suggests that the public was not informed of hundreds of potentially dangerous predators.

The state investigation began in Aug...

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