Child Sexual Abuse in Chicago Catholic Churches & Its Dark Past
A child becoming a victim of sexual abuse is unthinkable for most people. Unfortunately, this tragic event happens all too often—even right here in Chicago. Although every case is terrible, it often seems worse when the abuser is an adult whom children believe they can trust, such as a priest or religious leader.
While not every priest or church employee is a predator, a series of records released in 2014 by the Archdiocese of Chicago include tens of thousands of pages about allegations against priests and a disturbing, decades-long trend of concealment of child sexual abuse in the Church.
Depth of the Chicago Archdiocese Sexual Abuse Scandal Revealed
On January 21, 2014, the first set of records was released, showing that the Chicago Archdiocese tried to contain sexual abuse incidents that occurred between 30 of its priests and children prior to 1996. This was followed by the release of additional records on November 6, 2014—spurred by the impending retirement of Cardinal Francis George—that added 36 more priests to the list of abusers. The ongoing release of these documents has been an emotional process for victims, families, and advocates who have worked for nearly a decade to bring this information to light.
The released documents describe how the archdiocese moved priests who were accused of sexual abuse from parish to parish, and hid the clergy members' history from the public. These documents reveal that late Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernadin approved such relocations. Although some abusers were removed from the parishes, many were allowed to continue working for years or decades after the abuse occurred.
While the release of these records is an important moment for victims, finding true closure could prove difficult. Most of the records detail incidents from more than two decades ago, and the priests involved in the abuse have since retired from the ministry or passed away.
Who Will Speak for the Victims?
The alleged sexual abuse of hundreds of children is a wildly disturbing subject, but what is even more disturbing is the pattern of response indicated in the tens of thousands of pages that were released. It's clear that:
Incidents were not immediately reported to authorities
Accused priests were simply moved or promoted
Many priests were placed back into the ministry
Although Church officials pass the blame to their predecessors and deny any attempts to cover up abuse scandals, it appears that there were serious problems with how these cases were handled—and hundreds of victims were left to carry the weight of that negligence.
Are You a Victim of Clergy Sex Abuse? We Can Help.
If the unthinkable has happened to you or someone you love, you don’t have to be silent. You can receive the help you deserve. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Lane & Lane have extensive experience working with victims in child sexual abuse cases in Illinois. In fact, we have a case against the Chicago Archdiocese that is set to go to trial in September 2014. This could be thefirst trial of its kind against the Chicago Archdiocese, and it alleges that the archdiocese was negligent in allowing sexual abuse against a minor (our client) to occur and that they failed to prevent the priest in question from being ordained as a pastor given what was known about his past transgressions.
We believe the victims have the right to privacy and, unless instructed to by a victim, will never identify him or her in court documents or in the press.
For more information, speak to one of our experienced, compassionate, and discreet lawyers today at 312-332-1400. You can also fill out the form on this page to schedule a confidential, free consultation to discuss your situation.
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