Illinois AG report lists 21 priests with ties to the Quad Cities Area

Published: May. 24, 2023 at 2:04 AM CDT
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ILLINOIS (KWQC) - After a years-long investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul released a groundbreaking report Tuesday morning.

It reveals information on over 400 clergy who were found to have abused about 2,000 children across the six dioceses in the state.

The investigation started in 2018, under then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan. At that time only the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Joliet published a list of known abusers.

The vast majority of the TV6 viewing area falls within the Peoria Diocese.

Since 1946, 51 different clergymen with substantiated abuse claims against them were at one point assigned to churches in the Illinois Quad City Area.

Tuesday’s report revealed an additional 8 priests who were previously unreported by the Diocese.

“This report represents the state of Illinois’ first comprehensive accounting of child sex abuse by members of the Catholic Clergy,” Raoul said during a press conference announcing the completion of the report.

Before the investigation started there were 103 known abusers revealed by the dioceses. Throughout the investigation, they voluntarily revealed 217 more names.

In total, The number of known abusers throughout the state more than tripled from the start of the investigation.

“There was cooperation by the diocese there was,” Raoul said. “There are still 149 clerics, that the dioceses do not disclose, that our report discloses.”

Throughout the Illinois QCA, the report named 21 priests that have worked in 44 different churches, hospitals, schools and offices in the Peoria Diocese.

St. Mary’s in Moline had the most, with seven at one point in time working at the church.

“It was the survivors of child sex abuse, who gave purpose and drive to this investigation,” Raoul said. “Absent their courage and willingness to come forward and discuss their experience there would be no true investigative report.”

There are 13 cases of abuse to children that are known to have happened in the TV6 viewing area. Meanwhile, in three cases, it is unclear where in the diocese the incidents happened.

“Decades of catholic leadership decisions and policies have allowed known child sex abusers to hide, often in plain sight,” Raoul said. “The statute of limitations has frequently expired.”

A majority of the priests on the list were removed from the church and have since died.

However, six were barred from the church and are still alive. Another two were removed and convicted of crimes.

According to the report one priest, John Onderko, retired but did not face removal.

“These perpetrators may never be held accountable in a court of law,” Raoul said. “By naming them in this report, the intention is to provide the public with accountability ... and a measure of healing to survivors who have long suffered in silence.”

In a statement following the release of the Attorney General’s office, the Dioceses of Peoria said to its knowledge there are no priests currently in its ministry with substantiated cases of abuse.

“The steps that the church in the United States put into place some twenty years ago have gone a long way to address the scourge of sexual abuse,” the statement continued. “It is our sincere hope that other areas of our society will implement similar safeguards.”

The report includes resources for victims including the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests or SNAP.

In a statement of its own, the organization praised the report.

“When the legal system fails to provide victims with justice, statewide investigations can assist citizens and survivors in communicating essential facts about the global scourge of child sexual abuse,” SNAP said.

The entire report can be read on the Illinois Attorney General’s website.