Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said he was “surprised and dismayed” by comments this week from Cardinal Blase Cupich, who said he’d been unaware of dozens of names included in a new report on child sex abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in Illinois.
Speaking to the Associated Press this week, Cupich expressed surprise about 125 new cases involving priests he said he’d never heard of that were included in Raoul’s yearslong investigation.
Raoul’s office published a report Tuesday that found there’d been 451 Catholic clerics and religious brothers who abused at least 1,997 children across Illinois dating back to 1950. Before the investigation, the Catholic dioceses of Illinois had publicly listed 103 substantiated child sex abusers, according to Raoul.
On Friday, Raoul responded to Cupich’s comments, saying: “At best, the cardinal’s claims of being blindsided are misleading. At worst, they are more of the same, a continuation of the church’s decades-long pattern of turning a blind eye and covering up allegations of child sex abuse to the detriment of survivors.”
“I am surprised and dismayed by the cardinal’s claim in the media that he and the Archdiocese of Chicago ‘had never heard of’ the priests and religious brothers listed in the group of 125 substantiated child sex abusers named in the report my office issued this week,” Raoul said in a statement.
Cupich told the AP he would add the names onto the diocese’s list, but needed information on how Raoul’s investigators substantiated the sexual abuse claims lodged against them. When asked why it wasn’t sufficient for the church to accept cases that the attorney general’s office had substantiated, Cupich said the archdiocese just needed to understand the process.
But according to Raoul, about half of those 125 names came directly from an archdiocese spreadsheet entitled, ‘Religious Order Clerics With a Substantiated Allegation of Sexual Abuse of Minors Who Served Within the Archdiocese of Chicago.’
“The archdiocese itself confirmed to my investigators that 62 of the 125 priests and religious brothers in question were substantiated child sex abusers who ministered in the Archdiocese of Chicago,” Raoul said. “I am calling on the archdiocese to immediately add at least those 62 names to its online list of substantiated child sex abusers.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.