n the weeks since Attorney General Lisa Madigan released a scathing report faulting the Illinois dioceses for failing to investigate hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, a daunting question has lingered on the minds of parishioners: Which priests were accused?
Unlike a sweeping grand jury report in Pennsylvania that identified more than 300 predator priests this summer, the preliminary report released Dec. 19 by Madigan did not name the clergy members implicated in her probe or note the diocese where they worked.
Now, as U.S. bishops gather in suburban Mundelein for a spiritual retreat in response to the sex abuse scandal, two attorneys say they will expose the offenders known to them through handling hundreds of Illinois cases over nearly two decades.
The lawyers, Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, announced Thursday their intentions to publish a report in early February that includes the names and photos of every clergy member accused by the 300 survivors they have represented. Anderson called Madigan’s report comprehensive and helpful, but said he needed to do his part to release the information he possesses.
“What isn’t private and what needs to be known and made public is the identities of every one of those offenders, many of whom are still out in the community,” Anderson said at a news conference in a downtown Chicago hotel as he stood between a man and a woman he is representing as abuse victims in a lawsuit against the state’s six Catholic dioceses.
The majority of their cases on behalf of survivors were settled out of court over the years, Pearlman said. In about two dozen of those cases, the perpetrators have not been publicly named by the church, though confidentiality agreements do not prevent disclosing their identities. Some cases involve allegations that arose after clergy members had died, Pearlman said.
Madigan’s bombshell report found such cases were among several other categories of allegations that the dioceses did not investigate. In addition, dioceses often did not investigate cases when a victim wanted to remain anonymous, only one complainant came forward or the clergy member previously resigned, Madigan found. The dioceses also failed to investigate clergy who were visiting priests from a religious order, referring the allegations instead to the order, the report said.
In all, Madigan’s investigation portrayed sexual abuse of minors by clergy members as significantly more common than the church had previously disclosed. She alleged the dioceses had received 690 allegations of sexual abuse but publicly identified only 185 clergy as credibly accused.
A spokeswoman for Madigan’s office said Thursday that she could not comment on the extent to which the list from Anderson and Pearlman may coincide with the 500 priests in the Madigan report.
The spokeswoman also said there was no update regarding whether Madigan will publish the names of clergy members implicated in her report before leaving office on Jan. 14.
Cynthia Yesko, one of the victims named in Anderson and Pearlman’s lawsuit, said the state or the church needed to publish a comprehensive list of all accused priests to protect children and allow people to feel safe in their place of worship. Yesko was abused in the Springfield Diocese between the ages of 4 and 7 by the Rev. Stanislaus Yunker, who died in 1975, the lawsuit said.
“The Catholic Church is my church home,” she said. “It’s where I belong. And I have a right to feel safe there as does every other member of that institution.”
Also attending the news conference was Robert Krankvich, who has accused the Rev. Richard McGrath, the former president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, of abusing him between the ages of 13 and 15. Last week, McGrath went missing from the Augustinian order where he was staying. But on Thursday, the Will County state’s attorney said no charges would be filed at this point because the evidence was insufficient.
Because Madigan’s initial report does not provide a breakdown of the allegations by diocese, it was difficult to evaluate the scope of the problem in city churches.
But Anne Maselli, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said the organization implemented strong policies and procedures to heal victims and prevent abuse in 1992.
“We have published the names of clergy with substantiated allegations of abuse since 2006, when few dioceses had done so,” she said in a statement. “We have a robust safe environment program aimed at preventing abuse. We screen all employees and volunteers and provide training to employees, volunteers and children in how to recognize, resist and report abuse.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich was not available for an interview Thursday because he was attending the U.S. bishops retreat in Mundelein. The historic seven-day spiritual retreat was called in response to the sex abuse scandal and predates a meeting next month in Rome.
“We carry with us these days the pain and hope of all who may feel let down by the Church,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter sent Thursday to the bishops gathered at Mundelein Seminary on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake.
The retreat was closed to the public despite calls from critics to allow survivors to testify before the bishops. It includes quiet reflection, silent meal times, daily Mass and and an opportunity for confession, Maselli said.
An earlier version of this story misstated the assignment of blame in Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The report faulted the state’s Roman Catholic dioceses.
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