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SEXUAL ABUSE LAWSUITS

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE LAWYERS IN ILLINOIS

Fighting for Child & Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse in the Illinois Catholic Church

If you or someone you love were sexually abused by a Catholic priest or other member of the Catholic clergy in Illinois, you may be entitled to compensation.

In a 2023 report released by the Illinois Attorney General, investigators found evidence of pervasive sexual abuse committed by priests and clergy members across the state, as well as systemic failures within the state’s Catholic dioceses to protect children and stop abusive clergy.

Now, survivors are stepping forward to seek justice and hold the Catholic Church accountable for its inexcusable failures. At Levy Konigsberg, our Illinois Catholic Church abuse attorneys are actively reviewing cases from survivors who may have sexual abuse claims against any Catholic diocese in the state.

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Our team at Levy Konigsberg is comprised of award-winning trial lawyers who’ve helped hundreds of survivors across the country navigate the legal pathways toward justice and accountability. We have taken on powerful opponents and have the resources and experience to help survivors litigate against the Catholic Church.

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Do I Have a Case?

You may have grounds to file an Illinois clergy claim if:

  • You were sexually abused as a minor or an adult by a priest, church volunteer, or other clergy member.
  • The abuse occurred at a church within any of the state’s six Catholic dioceses.

Our clergy sex abuse attorneys in Illinois offer FREE and confidential consultations to evaluate survivors’ claims and discuss whether they may be able to file lawsuits against the Catholic Church.

How Do Catholic Church Sex Abuse Lawsuits Work?

Levy Konigsberg has extensive experience representing survivors in sexual abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church, including various dioceses, archdioceses, and unaffiliated Catholic Churches.

These lawsuits are civil claims, which mean they focus on holding defendants financially responsible for the damages suffered by survivors rather than the criminal guilt of abusers.

In fact, these civil cases are entirely separate from and independent of any criminal proceedings, which means that you may still have a claim even if:

  • Your abuser was never charged with a crime.
  • Your abuser was charged but not convicted.
  • Your abuser is no longer alive.

By pursuing civil claims against dioceses and Church leadership, these lawsuits aim to hold the Church’s hierarchy responsible for decades of failing to protect church members and for engaging in an inexcusable system of cover-ups and concealment that enabled abusers and silenced victims.

Recoverable Damages in Church Sexual Abuse Claims

In addition to accountability and providing the sense of justice survivors deserve, these claims also allow survivors to recover financial compensation for their damages, which may include:

  • Past medical and mental health expenses
  • Future mental health expenses, including therapy, medications, etc.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anguish and psychological harm
  • Lost income
  • Other economic and non-economic damages

How Long Do I Have to File?

Sexual abuse claims involving Catholic clergy abuse in Illinois are subject to a statute of limitations that can be different depending on the circumstances of your case.

In cases involving childhood sexual abuse, for example, survivors have 20 years from the date of their abuse or the date that they discover the connection between their abuse and resulting injuries (such as depression, PTSD, or other mental health issues).

It’s crucial to understand that the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims related to Catholic clergy abuse in Illinois can vary based on the unique circumstances of each case. Claims brought by survivors of childhood sexual abuse (abuse that occurred when the victim was under 18 years of age) may be commenced at any time for victims who were born on or after June 24, 1983. Navigating these legal complexities can be challenging, which is why we strongly recommend survivors to engage in a direct conversation with an experienced Illinois clergy sex abuse attorney at Levy Konigsberg. An attorney can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and help you determine the applicable statute of limitations for your case, ensuring that your rights and potential legal actions are fully understood and protected.

Determining the statute of limitations that applies to your case can be difficult, which is why we encourage survivors to speak personally with an Illinois clergy sex abuse lawyer at Levy Konigsberg.

Illinois Attorney General Report Reveals Long History of Child Abuse & Cover-Ups by Catholic Clergy

In May 2023, the Office of the Illinois Attorney General released a report detailing the findings of a sweeping, multi-year investigation that found nearly 2,000 children were abused by hundreds of members of the Catholic clergy in Illinois.

Cases of child sexual abuse in the report date back decades and included parishes in all six of Illinois’ Catholic dioceses:

  • Archdiocese of Chicago – 275 abusers
  • Diocese of Belleville – 43 abusers
  • Diocese of Joliet – 69 abusers
  • Diocese of Peoria – 51 abusers
  • Diocese of Rockford – 24 abusers
  • Diocese of Springfield – 32 abusers

According to a statement from Attorney General Kwame Raoul, the investigation began in 2018 and involved meticulous examination of more than 100,000 diocesan files. Investigators also interviewed Church officials and met with survivors to draft narrative accounts of their experiences.

A sweeping investigation into Illinois’ Catholic Dioceses found that the Church’s hierarchy severely underreported the number of children abused by clergy members over the past seven decades. Read our blog for more information.

Here are some additional details from the 696-page report:

  • Investigators found 1,997 children across Illinois were abused by clergy between 1950 and 2019, far more than the 103 individuals identified by the Church when the investigation began in 2018.
  • The total number of abusers identified by the investigation was 451 priests and clergy members, some of whom ministered in more than one Illinois diocese.
  • Illinois dioceses deemed only 26% of the allegations they received to be credible, and either failed to investigate or deemed the remaining 74% unsubstantiated.
  • Evidence uncovered by investigators revealed that all dioceses in Illinois routinely failed to protect children and hold abusers accountable, often by moving known or suspected abusers to different parishes, mishandling investigations, or turning a blind-eye to complaints.

The Illinois Attorney General report shines a spotlight on the pervasiveness of child sexual abuse within Catholic Churches across the state, as well as the dioceses’ systemic failures and cover-ups.

The findings are particularly shocking considering the limited number of survivors and abusive Catholic priests publicly identified by Church leadership prior to the investigation. According to investigators, the limited information provided by the Church was yet another indication that the Church’s hierarchy routinely kept known abusers under wraps and nearly always prioritized abusers over victims.

A preliminary report conducted by the previous Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, similarly found that the actual list of accused clergy and abused minors was far more than the number of individuals named publicly by the Church. That preliminary report also found that the church’s six Illinois dioceses were woefully inadequate in investigating accusations, and in many cases failed to investigate claims entirely and failed to notify authorities.

Advocates believe that the total number of survivors is likely even higher than the number identified in the AG’s report. If you are a survivor, Levy Konigsberg can help advocate for you.

High-Profile Clergy Abuse Settlements in Illinois

In addition to the latest Illinois Attorney General report, numerous legal filings and high-profile settlements have added to the mountain of evidence that the Church’s six Illinois dioceses routinely failed to protect children and church members from abusive clergy. Some notable cases include:

  • In August 2022, the Chicago Archdiocese agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who claimed she was repeatedly abused as a child in the 1980s by Carmelite priest Robert Boley, who taught at the now-closed St. Cyril Catholic School in Woodlawn. During litigation, it was revealed that the Church transferred Boley to Chicago from Los Angeles, where he had been accused of abusing other children.
  • In February 2022, the Chicago Archdiocese paid $800,000 to settle five cases of alleged abuse that occurred between the 1960s and 1970s. The settlement named Father George Clements, Father Daniel Holihan, Father Joseph Fitzharris, Father Michael Weston, and Brother Edward Courtney as the abusers.
  • In June 2021, the Archdiocese of Chicago reached an $880,000 settlement with two men who claimed they were abused as children by Norbert Maday while they were alter boys and students at St. Bede the Venerable Elementary School. The men were among more than a dozen survivors who’ve sued over abuses committed by Maday between 1967 and 1986.
  • In August 2018, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet paid a $1.4 million settlement to three men who claimed they were molested as children by Father Leonard Mateo between 1980 and 1982. Records in the case revealed that Mateo has been repeatedly moved from parish to parish following allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • In August 2013, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria reached a $1.35 million settlement filed by a former alter boy who claimed he was abused by Father Thomas Maloney and that Church leaders allowed the priest to remain in the ministry despite evidence of prior abuse. Prior to the case, the Peoria diocese reached a confidential settlement with two men who claim that they were abused by a different Peoria priest, Father Walter Breuning, during the 1950s and 1960s.
  • In August 2011, the Belleville Catholic Diocese paid $6.3 million to settle a case brought by a survivor who was abused by Father Raymond Kownacki. The settlement concluded years of appeals filed by the Diocese, which was initially ordered to pay $5 million by a jury that found Church officials knew of Kownacki’s abuse but continued to let him work in the parish.
  • In August 2008, the Chicago Archdiocese paid more than $12.6 million to settle claims of clergy abuse brought by 16 survivors, and agreed to release information and files related to the cases. The settlement covered multiple cases of abuse involving 10 priests between 1962 and 1994.

Call For a FREE Consultation:

Levy Konigsberg attorneys have recovered more than $3 billion in compensation for sexual abuse survivors and are passionate about helping clients fight for justice.

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Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

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