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Report finds nearly 2,000 kids abused by Catholic clergy in Illinois over decades

Holy Name Cathedral, the seat of the Chicago Archdiocese.
Holy Name Cathedral, the seat of the Chicago Archdiocese. Kamil Krazaczynski / AFP via Getty Images

Nearly 2,000 children in Illinois were sexually abused by Catholic clergy over a period of almost 70 years, the state's attorney general said in a report Tuesday. The scope of the abuse was far greater than the Catholic Church had acknowledged in Illinois.

The report, released by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, alleged that at least 1,997 children were sexually abused by Catholic clerics in Illinois from 1950 to 2019. The claims of abuse were made against 451 members of the state's six Catholic dioceses. The list of abuse incidents was compiled after Raul's office combed through more than 100,000 historical files and 600 interactions with sources.

Due to the statute of limitations on many of these cases, "many survivors of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic clerics will never see justice in a legal sense," Raoul said in a press release. He added, though, that it was his hope "that this report will shine light both on those who violated their positions of power and trust to abuse innocent children, and on the men in church leadership who covered up that abuse."

Prior to Raoul's report, the church had compiled a list of just 103 alleged abusers, The Associated Press reported, nearly four times less than the 451 people named in Raoul's report.

The attorney general added that church policies have "allowed known child sex abusers to hide, often in plain sight."

In a statement, Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, apologized "to all who have been harmed by the failure to prevent and properly respond to child sexual abuse by clerics. Survivors will forever be in our prayers, and we have devoted ourselves to rooting out this problem and providing healing to victims."

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