Attorneys Accuse Nearly 400 Illinois Priests Of Abuse

Mar 21, 2019
Originally published on March 20, 2019 4:53 pm

Attorneys representing clergy abuse victims have presented a report which details the alleged sexual misconduct by 400 Catholic priests in Illinois.

The 181-page report lists 29 priests who served in the Peoria Diocese, including six in Bloomington-Normal churches. The report does not always specify where or when the alleged abuse occurred.

Most of the priests have died or are no longer in ministry. Attorney Mark Pearlman said they have been told a few are serving churches under certain restrictions.

“We don’t know what under restriction means either,” Pearlman said. “I have no idea.”

Attorney Jeff Anderson said the report is intended to provide comfort to the abused and to stop abusive priests from re-offending. 

“So that kids can be protected and two, to let survivors who are suffering in secrecy and silence who may or may not have made a report to the Catholic bishops and who weren’t believed is they are not alone,” Anderson said.

The Catholic church has revealed names of fewer than 200 that it considers credibly accused.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan issued a report in December claiming the Catholic church failed to disclose at least 500 sex abuse cases involving priests.

Anderson said the church is still protecting abusive priests and he's confident the abuse claims in the report are accurate.

“We always have qualms and concerns about ruining reputations of individuals and I have been in this space for 35 years and when I disseminate this information publicly I have yet to be sued over it because I have yet to make that mistake,” Anderson said.

One accused Chicago priest twice accused of sex abuse, Michael O’Connell is still actively serving his church.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria responded with a statement saying 26 of the 29 priests have been publicly known and have been listed on its website for some time.  

The diocese noted it found abuse allegations against Monsignor Charles Beebe to be unsubstaniated. He retired from ministry in 2016. The diocese noted it never received an abuse allegation involving Frank Martinez Jr. and is a priest of the Diocese of Davenport, Iowa. The diocese also said is placed Monsignor Thomas Maloney on administrative leave when abuse allegations surfaced. The diocese entered into a settlement agreement after his death. 

“Under the direction of Bishop (Daniel) Jenky, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria remains committed to maintaining a safe environment to all children," the diocese said.

Six accused priests who served in Bloomington-Normal

  • Louis Condon – Holy Trinity, Bloomington (1979-80); accused of abusing students in Lincoln, Delevan; died in 2009.
  • William Harbert – Holy Trinity, Bloomington (1963-66); accused of abusing at least five children in Pekin, Moline, Rock Island and Walnut; was removed from the ministry; died in 2003.
  • Duane Leclercq – Holy Trinity, Bloomington (1965-68); accused of abusing a minor in the 1980s; was removed from ministry.
  • Thomas Maloney – Epiphany, Normal (1974-76, 1996-2002); accused of abusing at least five children; retired in 2002; died in 2009.
  • Thomas Miller – Holy Trinity, Bloomington (1980-83); accused of abusing multiple children; placed on leave in 2006; whereabouts unknown.
  • Michael Van Acker – Holy Trinity, Bloomington (1982), Central Catholic High School, Bloomington (1983-86); accused of child sex abuse dating back to 1980s; was removed from ministry; whereabouts unknown.

Data compiled by The Anderson Report: Child Sex Abuse in the Archdiocese and Dioceses in Illinois

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