The Illinois Attorney General has completed an independent investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests revealing over 500 additional cases in the state. Previously, the Church identified only 185 cases of abuse and the state now accuses the Church of underestimating the extent of its clergy sexual abuse problem.
The Catholic Church contends its figures are based on cases of sexual abuse that have been found credible, not on the number of total accusations. It is the state’s position because many of the accusations are ignored entirely or not properly investigated, and the Church’s low numbers do not paint a true picture of the extensiveness of the clergy sexual abuse problem. Although the Catholic Church occasionally releases lists of “credibly accused” priests, it is unclear what standards the Church is using to determine the credibility of each claim.
Another reason offered for the lower number of cases reported directly by the Catholic Church is the length of time it takes for some of the credibly accused priests to be added to these lists. Critics point out an increasingly long lag time for adding new names despite evidence of credible accusations. Without names being added on a regular basis, these lists become meaningless.
Sexual abuse victim advocacy groups continue to call for increased accountability and transparency in the use of the accused priest lists. Revealing the true number of sexual abuse victims would be a huge step toward this goal. Until the Church provides the total number of abuse victims, survivors will continue to feel they are being ignored. Since the Illinois Attorney General’s report, six Illinois dioceses have added 45 additional names to their lists of credibly accused priests.
In response to criticisms that Church officials, including bishops and archbishops, have contributed to the problem by concealing the abuse, the Catholic Church has begun to take steps to address these issues. Several American bishops have been removed from their positions for actions in concealing clergy sexual abuse within their dioceses. All U.S. bishops will be meeting for a retreat and Pope Francis has scheduled an additional meeting in February to discuss the clergy sexual abuse problem.
Many clergy abuse survivors deal with the aftermath of their abuse for the rest of their lives. In addition to lifelong physical injuries, many suffer psychological trauma that requires ongoing psychiatric treatment, counseling, or therapy. Compensation may be available to help cover these costs. The first step in recovering for these losses is to contact an experienced clergy abuse lawyer.
If you or a loved one has experienced sexual abuse by a priest, the compassionate and experienced Allentown clergy abuse lawyers at Williams Cedar can help you obtain compensation for your injuries. With offices conveniently located in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Johnstown, Eerie, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. To arrange a free and confidential consultation, call us at 215-557-0099 or contact us online.