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Church underreported number of priests with sex misconduct allegations

Even as Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich has taken a larger role in proposing reforms in response to the priest sex abuse crisis raging across the United States and around the world, a report released Wednesday by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan shows the Catholic church in Illinois has dramatically underreported the number of priests with sexual misconduct allegations.

Across Illinois — which is broken into six Catholic “dioceses,” each headed by a bishop and based on geography — the church has publicly identified 185 clergy with credible accusations of child abuse, according to Madigan.

An investigation by her agency identified 500 other clergy members in Illinois with sex misconduct allegations dating back decades, Madigan said, describing her findings and the allegations uncovered by her investigators as “disheartening” and “disgusting.”

Madigan acknowledged it’s not clear whether all of the newly unearthed allegations are credible.

But she noted that in many instances the church did very little to try to determine their validity.

“If they had an excuse not to investigate” a sex abuse claim internally, “they took it,” Madigan said.


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