Letter to Illinois AG Regarding Lack of Updates on Clergy Abuse Investigation
Dear Attorney General Raoul,
We are leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the Archangel Foundation. We are writing to you to ask for an update on the progress of the investigation into cases of clerical sexual abuse in Illinois started by your predecessor, Lisa Madigan and that you and your team have continued.
Last Thursday marked one full year since the preliminary report was released by A.G. Madigan and her team. Through that report we learned that Catholic officials in Illinois had received allegations of abuse by 690 priests yet had made public only 185 of those complaints. Additionally, according to that report, the six dioceses in Illinois ignored or minimized nearly ¾ of all reports made to internal reporting systems.
Since that report was released, we have seen several things happen in Illinois:
- Diocesan officials in Chicago assigned Fr. Michael O’Connell, a priest who has twice been accused during his career of abusing children, to a position at St. Bartholomew’s School;
- As many as 1,000 allegations of sexual abuse committed by clergyand reported to DCFS were never investigated;
- Religious order officials moved Fr. John McCloskey, a pastor against whom they had already settled an abuse complaint and had promised to keep out of ministry, to a new church in Illinois while telling the community that he was “a priest of good character and reputation” and “in good standing”; and
- Parishioners in Niles, IL learned that a previous pastor had been found “credibly accused” of abuse, but only because of the outreach done by church officials in Minnesota, not in Illinois.
We are not attorneys nor are we experts in law enforcement, which is why we are so reliant on the work done by those who are, such as your office and attorneys general like Josh Shapiro, Xavier Becerra, Dana Nessel, and others who are investigating these cases in order to get to the bottom of this institution-wide scandal. It is through your office that we will learn the true scope of these crimes, and we firmly believe that informed communities are safer communities. Only when we know what went wrong in the past can we know how to prevent it in the future, and only through secular investigations do we learn about things going wrong today.
Earlier this year, we called on your office to update the progress on your investigation following the news of a private meeting between your office and Cardinal Blase Cupich. No update has been made since that meeting. Given the importance that this probe represents to our constituents and our cause, it is our hope that you will have some progress or information that you can publicly share very soon about this important investigation. The six dioceses in Illinois cover nearly 3.5 million Catholics, a population twice the size of that covered by A.G. Shapiro’s grand jury from 2018, and secular investigations have consistently shown an average abuse rate among Catholic clergy of 8%. We can only imagine what those numbers will show when your final report is released and are very interested in hearing an update on your progress. We are confident that those 3.5 million Catholics are interested as well.
Our organization stands ready to assist you in any way possible and are grateful for the work you have done so far. If there is ever anything we can do, please contact us directly.