SPRINGFIELD — Illinois dioceses strongly dispute a report published Wednesday by a Minnesota-based law firm accusing nearly 400 clergy members and church staffers of sexual misconduct.
The 185-page document (See related story) lists the names, photographs, assignment histories and background information for individuals associated with churches throughout the state, in each of the six dioceses.
Jeff Anderson, the trial attorney who heads the firm that published the report, said Wednesday at a news event in Chicago the main purpose for releasing this information is so “kids are protected better.”
“Those at the top have chosen not to believe so many survivors for so many years who have come forward with reports and have chosen, then, to keep secret not only the identities of those offenders, but (also) those who have been complicit in that concealment at the top.”
Statement of the Archdiocese of Chicago
Today Anderson & Associates released the names of clerics and laypeople they say have been accused of the sexual abuse of minors and have served in one or more of the six Illinois dioceses. The Archdiocese of Chicago reports all allegations we receive to the civil authorities. In addition to the priests listed on the Archdiocese’s website, we have identified 22 priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago on Anderson & Associates’ list.
The Archdiocese has reported 20 of these clerics to the civil authorities; in one of the remaining two cases, the Archdiocese first received notice when the cleric was arrested, and in the other it was an allegation of misconduct with an adult, not a minor. [An] attached chart details the circumstances surrounding these 22 allegations and disposition of those cases.
Priests with substantiated allegations are listed on the Archdiocese’s website.
The Archdiocese of Chicago does not “police itself.” It reports all allegations to the civil authorities, regardless of the date of the alleged abuse, whether the priest is a diocesan priest or religious order priest, and whether the priest is alive or dead.
When an allegation against an archdiocesan cleric is made and before any investigation begins, the archdiocesan Office of Assistance Ministry promptly reaches out to the person making the allegation and offers therapy at archdiocesan expense from a licensed therapist of the person’s choosing. The Archdiocese withdraws the accused priest from ministry pending investigation of the allegation and publicly announces this action.
After the civil authorities have completed their investigation, the Archdiocese conducts its investigation.
The Independent Review Board, which considers the results of such investigations, was established in 1993. The majority of its members are laypeople. The Independent Review Board is the primary adviser to the archbishop on issues of risk to children and fitness for ministry.
Anderson & Associates conflates people who have been accused, but may be innocent, with those who have substantiated allegations against them, referring to all as perpetrators Their list includes:
- A priest whose allegations were investigated by the public authorities and were determined to be unfounded. The Archdiocese’s Independent Review Board also investigated and determined that the allegations were not substantiated. The priest was then returned to ministry.
- Two priests whose cases are under investigation; their cases were reported to the authorities and they have been withdrawn from ministry, pending the outcome of the investigation.
- A seminarian (who was a transitional deacon) who was never ordained a priest.
- A priest who was accused of misconduct with an adult, not a minor.
Many of the names listed by Anderson & Associates are religious order priests. We provide the following information to help clarify their governance:
Dioceses and religious orders are separately governed entities in the Roman Catholic Church. Bishops govern dioceses; religious superiors govern religious orders. The bishop selects, trains, and supervises diocesan priests. The religious orders select, train and supervise their priests. The diocesan and religious order priests often do similar work, but each group is responsible to its own chain of authority (Canon 586). Disagreements between a bishop and a religious superior are referred to the Holy See for resolution.
A bishop and a religious superior work cooperatively such as when a bishop grants faculties (a license) for a religious priest to work in a diocesan institution, such as a parish (Canon 678). Nevertheless, the religious order priest is still under the authority of his religious superior. Similarly, a bishop may revoke a religious order priest’s faculties (a license) to work in the diocese. In that eventuality, the supervision and management of the order priests also remains the responsibility of his religious superior. In brief, a diocesan priest is the responsibility of the diocese and a religious priest is the responsibility of the religious order.
If the Archdiocese of Chicago receives an allegation that a religious priest has engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor, the archdiocese reports it to the civil authorities, publicly withdraws the priest’s faculties to work in the archdiocese, and refers the matter to his religious superior.
Religious superiors have the same obligation and responsibility as bishops to adhere to the terms set forth in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Statement of the Diocese of Joliet
The Diocese of Joliet has learned that on March 20, 2019, Attorney Jeff Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates released a list of allegations known to him against priests which have served in the six Catholic dioceses in Illinois. This information appears to have been previously available through the Diocese of Joliet website or other publicly-available sources online or through court filings.
Importantly, the Diocese of Joliet reports all allegations of child sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities and, in cases involving victims who are still minors, to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. All of the allegations reflected on Mr. Anderson’s list which were made to the Diocese of Joliet have already been reported to law enforcement authorities. Additionally, the Diocese of Joliet website contains a list of living and deceased diocesan priests who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. This list has appeared on the website since 2006. All credibly accused priests have been removed from ministry. The dates of such removal and the status of the priest are also listed on the website.
In addition to those priests already listed on our website, the list published by Attorney Anderson includes the names of some diocesan priests, living and deceased, who have been accused of abuse, but the claim was unsubstantiated or deemed not credible by the Diocese of Joliet Review Board, or the claim did not involve child abuse. In addition to the investigation and conclusion by the Diocese of Joliet Review Board, each of these claims was forwarded to the civil authorities for investigation and potential prosecution.
The list includes a number of priests, living and deceased, who, at one time or another provided some ministry within the Diocese of Joliet at some point during their priesthood, but are not priests of the Diocese of Joliet. These include priests belonging to religious orders, and those visiting from another diocese.
Since 2002, whenever a priest who is not incardinated in our diocese comes to the Diocese of Joliet – even for a single event like a funeral or Baptism – that priest’s bishop or provincial superior is required by the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People to send the Diocese of Joliet a Letter of Suitability attesting to the priest’s fitness to perform ministry. The Letter of Suitability specifically affirms to the Diocese of Joliet that the priest has no known credible allegations of abuse or other issue that would render him unfit for ministry.
If an allegation is received regarding a priest of a different diocese, or a priest belonging to a religious order, in addition to reporting the allegation to authorities, the Diocese of Joliet immediately revokes their authority to minister in the Diocese of Joliet, and that priest’s diocese or religious order assumes responsibility for handling the allegation further.
The Diocese of Joliet continues to express its genuine regret and profound sympathy to any victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Joliet and elsewhere. We are committed to promoting the healing and reconciliation of survivors, and the protection of our children today.
We encourage any interested party to visit the website for the Diocese of Joliet Office of Child & Youth Protection at http://www.dioceseofjoliet.org/youthprotection. The website includes information regarding diocesan policies and procedures for working with minors, directions for reporting abuse, frequently asked questions, and a list of all credible/substantiated allegations against any diocesan priest, which has been continually updated since its first publication in 2006.
Statement of the Diocese of Peoria
Today, Attorney Jeff Anderson published a lengthy report providing the names of various priests across the state of Illinois that he claimed had allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.
The section of this report that directly pertains to the Diocese of Peoria lists 29 priests. 26 of these 29 priests have been listed on the Diocese of Peoria website for some time and have been made publically known. These 26 priests have been reported to the appropriate state’s attorney.
It is important to note that the majority of the 29 names released today are deceased. Furthermore, the allegations of abuse dated back several decades.
The Diocese of Peoria offers the following comments on the remaining three priests.
Fr. Frank Martinez: He is a priest of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and is listed on their diocesan website. The Diocese of Peoria has never received an allegation of abuse regarding Fr. Martinez.
Msgr. Charles Beebe: Jeff Anderson’s report today stated that the Diocese of Peoria only reported this case after a lawsuit was filed. This is completely false.
In June 2018, the Diocese of Peoria received an allegation that Msgr. Beebe sexually abused a person in 1981 (37 years ago). Msgr. Beebe was immediately placed on administrative leave and cooperated with the investigation. This allegation was immediately reported to the Peoria Police Department. The police investigated this accusation and reviewed Msgr. Beebe’s personnel file. They concluded their investigation and acknowledged the Diocese’s cooperation in this matter. This allegation was taken to our Diocesan Review Commission. The Commission unanimously determined that the allegation was unsubstantiated and could not be deemed credible. Msgr. Beebe was reinstated in ministry. Msgr. Beebe is a retired priest since 2016. This case has been reported to the appropriate State’s Attorney. All of these actions of the Diocese occurred months before any lawsuit being filed.
Msgr. Thomas Maloney: While Msgr. Maloney was alive, an allegation was received. He was immediately placed on administrative leave. This allegation was taken to the Review Commission and it was unanimously determined to be unsubstantiated.
Later after Maloney’s death, the Diocese entered into a settlement agreement. As is often the case with settlements, the Diocese makes no admissions of liability. This case has been reported to the appropriate state’s attorney.
Under the direction of Bishop Jenky, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria remains committed to maintaining a safe environment to all children.
Statement of the Diocese of Rockford
Sexual misconduct by clergy, church personnel, church leaders and volunteers is contrary to Christian morals, doctrine and Canon Law. It is never acceptable, and Bishop David J. Malloy has declared emphatically that “one case of abuse is one too many.”
The Diocese of Rockford remains committed to preventing abuse and remains vigorous in its efforts to educate in the detection, and prevention and reporting of abuse, and to assist victims in healing.
The practice of the Diocese has been to inform the faithful when a priest has been removed from ministry due to a credible allegation of sexual abuse or other inappropriate conduct since before the late 1980s.
In November of 2018, The Diocese of Rockford published a list of priests, deacons and religious order priests who have or have had a substantiated claim against them.
Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this list, and the list covers the time frame of 1908, when this Diocese was established, to the present. An allegation against a priest who had an assignment in this Diocese but belongs to a religious order or other diocese is referred to the religious order or other diocese to which the priest belongs and is under its jurisdiction.
That is our current practice. However, to the extent the Diocese is aware of a substantiated allegation against a religious order priest or priest from another diocese who was assigned in the Diocese of Rockford or, who at any time served within the geographical boundaries of this Diocese but was not assigned in this Diocese, the name of that priest is included in this list. The list is not limited to priests, and includes permanent deacons and religious.
That list is available at www.rockforddiocese.org and is updated as necessary.
Mr. Anderson’s list released today includes names already disclosed by the Rockford Diocese along with other names previously disclosed publicly but which are not on the Diocese’s list of those substantially accused because the accusations either have not been substantiated or are completely without merit. The only name new to the Diocese of Rockford is Ivan Rovira, who was a priest of this Diocese for two years. The Rockford Diocese has never received an allegation against Ivan Rovira, and was unaware he was accused in another Diocese until this list was issued today.
Statement of the Diocese of Springfield
The following can be attributed to Diocese of Springfield in Illinois spokesperson, Andrew Hansen:
First, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki want to again offer our profound sadness and deep sorrow for the shameful wrongs and evils perpetrated during a dark chapter in our Church history where innocent believers were abused at the hands of some clergy. The extreme hurt some of our clergy caused decades ago is a disgrace, and it grieves all of us to see the suffering these sins have caused. The Diocese of Springfield pledges continued efforts to bring healing to the victims and survivors of this evil.
In terms of today’s report from Mr. Jeff Anderson, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has already published a website (promise.dio.org) with the names of 19 priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, none of whom are in active ministry, and 13 of whom are deceased. Some of those names clearly noted as deceased on this website appear as “status unknown” in Mr. Anderson’s report, despite his claims to have diligently and thoroughly reviewed all publicly available information. Further, Mr. Anderson claims that many credibly accused priests are still active in ministry, although there are none in the Springfield Diocese and Mr. Anderson was only able to identify one among his statewide list of nearly 400. The facts are clear in the Diocese of Springfield that the majority of instances of abuse occurred more than 30 years ago, and only one instance has occurred in the past 20 years.
Mr. Anderson’s report includes four additional names, which are not included on the diocese’s list of priests with credible allegations of abuse. Here are the facts regarding those names:
Father Frank Martinez is a priest of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and was in the Springfield Diocese for six weeks in 1985, from Oct. 7 to Nov. 19, at which point he resigned his position as a hospital chaplain. There are no records of allegations of abuse by Father Martinez during his six weeks here.
The allegations involving Father StanislausYunker and Father Louis Schlangen were related to alleged events of more than 30 years ago. When the diocese was made aware of these allegations, diocesan officials reported it to civil authorities and no charges were brought. In addition, the Diocesan Review Board, which is comprised of predominantly laypeople not employed by the diocese with professional backgrounds in areas such as state and local law enforcement, criminal and civil law, education, and psychology, and a victim and survivor of clergy abuse, reviewed the allegations and did not find them credible.
Regarding the case of Father Richard Niebrugge who died in 1983, a lawsuit was filed against him in 2004. That lawsuit was dismissed by the courts. There was no attempt, as Mr. Anderson claims, to cover up these allegations. They were publicly filed and civilly litigated.
Mr. Anderson claims simultaneously that his report only includes names of priests already publicly accused, while also saying that this report is new. The report is an impressive professional marketing brochure, but it does not represent, as Mr. Anderson suggests, a thorough and diligent review of the publicly available facts, and it is highly misleading and irresponsible.
If Mr. Anderson, or any member of the public, has new information about any instance of abuse, the diocese encourages them to contact civil authorities, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Child Abuse Hotline at 1(800)-25-ABUSE, and the Diocese’s Child Abuse Reporting and Investigation number at 217-321-1155.