ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois’ attorney general released a report on Tuesday that details child sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy.
The almost 700-page report documents nearly 2,000 cases, which span decades. Many members of the Rockford Diocese are relieved that this four-year investigation is finally over.
However, it is important to focus on those most hurt by this whole ordeal: the survivors of sexual abuse.
“Decades of Catholic leadership decisions and policies have allowed known child sex abusers to hide often in plain sight,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said.
More than 1,900 cases of sexual abuse over seven decades were found amongst the Catholic Diocese of Illinois. Raoul said that his team had two goals throughout their investigation.
“First, to obtain and provide a full public accounting of substantiated child sex abuse committed by Catholic clergy within the State of Illinois,” he said. “Second, to give survivors an opportunity to be heard, recognizing that some of these survivors had spent decades, decades on their path to healing.”
The church had disclosed 103 abusers prior to the investigation. This investigation found 451, with 24 of those abusers coming from the Diocese of Rockford.
“Dioceses, Rockford is very grateful for all the work that’s been put in both by our own staff, staff of all the Catholic Diocese of Rockford and Attorney General, to finally bring a conclusion, no matter what the final result is,” said Penny Weigert, director of communications for the Catholic Diocese of Rockford.
“It was the survivors of child sex abuse who gave purpose and drive to this investigation,” Raoul added. “Absent their courage and willingness to come forward and discuss their experience, there would be no true investigative report.”
The report also showed that the Rockford Diocese has made “significant progress” in the child abuse crisis, but said that policies and procedures still fall short in addressing past abuse.
“We consider the lives of their children and their families as precious as they do, and we do everything within our administrative power to keep their children safe and love and precious in the sight of God as they do,” Weigert said.
Residents who know of any current child abuse can report it to the Department of Children and Family Services.
If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.