CHICAGO (AP) - The Archdiocese of Chicago on Wednesday will hand over
thousands of pages documenting clergy sex abuse allegations to victims'
attorneys who have fought for years to hold the Catholic Church
accountable for its handling of such claims.
The files on the
nation's third-largest archdiocese will include complaints, personnel
documents and other files for about 30 priests with substantiated abuse
Victims' attorneys next week will make public the
documents detailing allegations of crimes concealed and priests assigned
to positions that allowed them to continue molesting children.
in other U.S. dioceses in recent years have showed how the church
shielded priests and failed to report child sex abuse to authorities.
Chicago officials said most of the abuse occurred before 1988 and none after 1996.
there is public disclosure and transparency ... there is no way people
can learn about it and make sure it does not happen again," said
attorney Marc Pearlman, who has represented about 200 abuse victims of
clergy abuse in the Chicago area.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan
Burritt said neither Cardinal Francis George nor archdiocese attorneys
were available for comment Tuesday.
George, who has led the
archdiocese since 1997, released a letter to parishioners Sunday in
which he apologized for the abuse and said releasing the records "raises
transparency to a new level." He also stressed that much of the abuse
occurred decades ago, before he became archbishop.
George said all of the incidents were reported to civil authorities and resulted in settlements with victims.
archdiocese has paid millions of dollars to settle sexual abuse claims,
including those against Father Daniel McCormack, who was sentenced to
five years in prison after pleading guilty in 2007 to abusing five
children while he was a parish priest and a teacher at a Catholic
school. The next year, the archdiocese agreed to pay $12.6 million to 16
victims of sexual abuse by priests, including McCormack.
the accused priests are dead, and the documents will include only 30 of
65 priests for whom the archdiocese says it has credible allegations of
Even so, victims and their lawyers said publicizing the
documents is crucial to exposing how the archdiocese handled accusations
against priests - some of whom were moved from parish to parish after
they were accused of molesting children - and to help victims and the
Catholic Church as a whole heal and move forward.
Joe Iacono hopes records related to the priest who abused him more than 50 years ago are among those released.
me, it's going to empower me again ... and hopefully it will help
others out there struggling to come forward and get help," said Iacono,
62, who was abused in the early 1960s while he was a student.