Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says her office has found 500 more Catholic clergy accused of sexually abusing children than the state's six archdioceses have publicly identified.
In disapproval of the church's handling of the crisis, Madigan's office says its preliminary findings have revealed that the state's six dioceses have done an inadequate job of investigating allegations and in some cases didn't investigate them at all or notify the state child welfare workers of the allegations. Those include Rockford, Chicago, Peoria, Joliet, Springfield, Belleville.Madigan says that while the six archdioceses have publicly identified 185 clergy members as having been "credibly" accused of child sexual abuse, her office found allegations of abuse by at least 500 more.
Madigan's findings come amid a renewed national outcry over allegations of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
In response to the requests from the attorney general's office, the Peoria Diocese issued a statement saying they had "fully cooperated." Bishop Daniel Jenky called for a review of all clergy personnel files back to 1878. The statement said of the more than 1,800 files reviewed, any noting allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior with a minor were forwarded to the attorney general's office.
Since 2002, the Diocese of Peoria has removed 15 priests from duty. Three were stripped from their positions in November of 2018. The decision came from the Diocesan Review Commission, which has been in place since 2002, according to the statement.
"In these cases the abuse occurred prior to 2002, and in most cases occurred many decades ago," read the statement.
"Bishop Jenky continues to express his sorrow that any child was a victim of misconduct by a priest, deacon, teacher, employee, or volunteer serving the Catholic Church," read the statement. "He remains vigilant in his efforts to protect our youth."
The Associated Press contributed to this report