Church Officials in Chicago Settle Case with 7-Year-Old Victim
We applaud the brave young girl who came forward in 2015 to report abuse at the hands of a camp counselor in suburban Chicago. It is incredibly rare – and challenging – for young victims of child sexual abuse to report, but thanks to this brave victim and her family we are confident that many other children have been spared the lifetime scourge of child sexual abuse.
This story is another example of why we call for church officials to include on their lists the names of all abusive church employees, not just priests. We know that abuse in catholic institutions is not limited to priests and the more information that gets into the hands of parents and the public about abusers, the better able they are to protect their children from harm. Cardinal Blase Cupich should update his list immediately to include the name of this counselor and every other church staffer who has abused children.
According to attorneys for the victim, church officials “had knowledge” that the counselor in question should not be around children. Making matters worse, church officials also tried to discourage the victim’s father from calling police, a disturbing move made worse by the fact that church officials used the young girl’s reputation as a bargaining chip. Once again, the church puts its own reputation above that of victims. This is shameful behavior from Chicago church employees and we hope that this situation is being investigated by Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
Now church officials must explicitly confirm how many other reports were received about this counselor and prove to parishioners and the public that there are not other counselors, teachers, or other staffers currently working who have been accused of abuse. The best way to prove this would be to turn all files over to police and prosecutors immediately so that secular officials can determine the extent of abuse and coverup in the Archdiocese of Chicago.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)