State Senator Calls for Reinstatement of Priest Accused by Multiple Victims of Abuse, SNAP Calls for Her to Help Uncover the Truth Instead
A month after two victims accused a prominent Catholic priest in Chicago of childhood sexual abuse, an Illinois state senator is using her office to cast doubt on these survivors and to demand the reinstatement of the cleric.
Rather than using her bully pulpit to disparage the victims, we believe IL State Senator Jacqueline Collins should instead use it to investigate the lies and misdirection that the state’s previous Attorney General uncovered in her investigation of Catholic dioceses. Senator Collins should be crafting legislation that will aid in preventing future child sexual abuse. Using her public office to cast doubt on survivors is an astonishing misuse of power and speaks to the State Senator's lack of knowledge about delayed disclosure in cases of childhood sexual abuse.
Science is clear that delayed disclosure is the norm, not the exception. According to research done by nationally renowned think tank CHILD USA, the average age at which a survivor comes forward is 52. The data also shows that most victims of child sexual abuse never report what happened to them. We encourage Senator Collins to learn more about delayed disclosure and how public statements like hers help exacerbate the situation, not solve it.
If State Senator Collins truly cared about restoring “dignity and decency,” she would use her office to investigate why Catholic officials in her state have admitted ignoring or minimizing as many as ¾ of all abuse cases. She should ask pointed questions of Cardinal Blasé Cupich and his brother bishops in IL as to why they have only admitted to knowing about 185 abusers in their institutions, despite former AG Lisa Madigan uncovering evidence that Church officials were aware of as many as 690. “Dignity and decency” are better restored by understanding what allowed these cases to remain hidden and taking steps to ensure that no other children or survivors are shamed into silence.
It is sad that despite the clear facts uncovered by Illinois’ former attorney general and the clear trend of cover-up nationwide that some elected officials are still in denial about how powerful men in a wealthy institution can abuse their power and get away with it. We hope that State Senator Collins will retract her statement, recognize her bias as a parishioner at the accused’s church, and show support and compassion for survivors instead of contributing to their shame and self-doubt.
(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)