Report: Nearly 2,000 children abused by more than 450 Catholic leaders in Illinois

A multi-year investigation into child sex abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in Illinois found at least 1,997 children across the state were sexually abused.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul Tuesday released a comprehensive report detailing decades of child sex abuse by members of the Illinois Catholic dioceses, which includes Belleville, Chicago, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield.

The nearly 700-page report features detailed narrative accounts of child sex abuse committed by Catholic clerics.

More: Names of priests added to Rockford Catholic Diocese sexual abuse list

Many of the narratives were written in consultation with survivors, are based upon their experiences, and told from the survivor’s point of view.

“I was raised and confirmed in the Catholic church and sent my children to Catholic schools. I believe the church does important work to support vulnerable populations; however, as with any presumably reputable institution, the Catholic church must be held accountable when it betrays the public’s trust,” Raoul said.

Although the report formally concludes the investigation the Attorney General’s office opened in 2018, it contains 50 pages of the office’s recommendations to the dioceses for the handling of future child sex abuse allegations.

Before Raoul’s investigation, the Catholic dioceses of Illinois publicly listed only 103 substantiated child sex abusers. By comparison, Raoul’s report reveals names and detailed information of 451 Catholic clerics and religious brothers who abused at least 1,997 children across all of the dioceses in Illinois.

Of the 451 clerics in the report, 330 have died, according to Raoul.

The Archdiocese of Chicago, and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield issued a joint statement regarding the findings.

“The Catholic Church in Illinois has been at the forefront of dealing with sexual abuse of minors for many years,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago and Metropolitan of the Chicago Province.

“At this time, working with the Office of the Attorney General of Illinois, the leaders of all six Illinois dioceses endeavored to make clear and update our approach, mindful of our lived experience and best practices in this field. Our common goals in doing so are to ensure we offer pastoral support to those affected by this tragedy and to work diligently to prevent it from occurring again.”

The Illinois dioceses' said for years their procedures include, among other things:

  • The diocesan website publication of the names of its clerics credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

  • Policies for handling allegations of sexual abuse of minors against clerics incardinated in their dioceses.

  • Diocesan policies for handling such allegations against deceased, laicized and religious order priests.

  • Processes for dealing with allegations that arise during criminal investigations or civil lawsuits.

The Illinois Catholic dioceses serve 3.4 million Catholics, comprising approximately 27 percent of the total state population, through more than 900 parishes.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Nearly 2,000 children sexually abused by Catholic leaders in Illinois