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State

Chicago law firm vows to release names of clerics accused of sex abuse

A Chicago law firm has vowed to release the names of more than 300 Catholic clergy members with whom they’ve settled sexual abuse allegations.

Attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman of Anderson and Attorneys made the announcement at a news conference Jan. 3. They expect to release the report Feb. 11, complete with the names, histories and photos of each priest they’ve settled with over the past 20 years.

“There are over 300 survivors who had the courage to come to us privately and work with us,” Anderson said. “Most all of those offenders ... we made known public. But not all of them.”

The attorneys also urged each of the Illinois Catholic dioceses to publicly identify more than 500 unnamed clergy members whose identities church officials intentionally keep under wraps, according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Last month, Madigan released the preliminary findings of her investigation of sexual abuse claims within the Catholic church.

The investigation is expected to continue under Illinois Attorney General-elect Kwame Raoul.

Madigan’s report did not include the accused clergy members’ names or confirm to which Illinois diocese they belonged. Although some have urged the attorney general’s office to release more details and reciprocate the transparency it’s asking of the church, Anderson and Pearlman demanded the state’s Catholic bishops “come clean” by publicly naming all of the priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

Alex Rechenmacher, spokesman for the Diocese of Joliet, said in a written statement the diocese lists names on its website of every priest accused of abuse if substantiated after referral to law enforcement and an independent review board.

“Every single allegation received by the Diocese of Joliet is reported to local law enforcement and prosecuting authorities, including DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services),” Rechenmacher said.

Rechenmacher said the attorney general’s office has not informed the diocese of “any inaccuracies or omissions that would prompt additions or corrections to the list of priests on our website.”

The attorneys represented a 36-year-old Crest Hill man in a suit filed in April 2018, accusing Rev. Richard McGrath, former president of Providence Catholic High School, of abuse. The civil suit has since been dismissed, but Anderson has said it will be reinstated to address issues raised in court.

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