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CHICAGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Minnesota-based attorney is challenging Illinois bishops over their lack of transparency in handling predator priests.
On Tuesday, Jeff Anderson, who specializes in prosecuting sexually abusive priests, released a list of almost 400 credibly accused clerics in the archdiocese of Chicago and the dioceses of Belleville, Joliet, Peoria, Rockford and Springfield.
The Anderson Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese and Dioceses in Illinois is described as "a chronology and analysis of the sexual abuse of children in Catholic institutions within the State of Illinois, including a discussion of how the highest Diocesan and Religious officials enabled the abusers and covered up crimes of sexual misconduct and abuse."
"The data reveal the horrifying scale of priests sexually assaulting minors to the present day," the report states. "The data collected illustrate the patterns and practices of Diocesan and Religious officials, including orchestrating an institutional cover-up of enormous magnitude."
"Perhaps most shocking among the discoveries is that some perpetrators were intentionally transferred and retained in trusted positions with direct access to children even after they were known to sexually abuse children," it continues.
The report adds: "Modern means of analysis and availability of data through the Internet, social media, and public information is exposing perpetrators who operated in these Dioceses, but until full transparency and accountability exist, children remain in grave danger."
The Anderson Report reinforces and builds on the work of former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan who, in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report's release last August, launched an investigation into abuse cover-up by the state's six Catholic dioceses.
Detailing Madigan's preliminary findings, the report notes that together, by December, Illinois' six dioceses "had only publicly identified 185 clergy as being 'credibly' accused of sexual abuse," when in fact they "had received allegations related to sexual abuse for approximately 690 clergy."
Anderson and his team believe that "there are likely hundreds of alleged perpetrators within the Dioceses and religious orders in Illinois whose names have never been made public," the report adds. "The fight for information and the names of those alleged perpetrators continues."
Summarizing Madigan's findings, it observes:
The Anderson Report slams the Illinois Catholic hierarchy, accusing the state's bishops of facilitating abuse by covering for abusive clergy.
"Historically, the Archdiocese and Dioceses in Illinois, like many other archdioceses and dioceses, knew of predator priests who posed a significant danger to children," the report alleges.
"The sexual abuse of children has long been a crime in Illinois," it notes. "However, Diocesan and Religious Order officials chose and continue to keep these crimes hidden, allowing their priests continued and unfettered access to children."
The report adds: "During the 1980s and 1990s, occasional bits of information about abuse within Catholic institutions surfaced, but the Catholic Church's strict policy of secrecy kept important information and the full extent of the problem hidden from the public. This has continued despite mandated reporting laws."