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Illinois Attorney General Clergy Sex Abuse Investigation

A multiyear investigation by the Illinois Office of the Attorney General (AG) into child sexual abuse by members of multiple Catholic Dioceses throughout the state recently concluded. It began after the investigations of other AG Offices in different states uncovered thousands of hidden reports of child sexual abuse across decades of religious practice.

The Illinois AG investigated these six Catholic Dioceses for child sexual abuse:

  • Archdiocese of Chicago
  • Diocese of Belleville
  • Diocese of Joliet
  • Diocese of Peoria
  • Diocese of Rockford
  • Diocese of Springfield

The result of the investigation uncovered thousands of previously unknown or undisclosed reports of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Dioceses throughout Illinois. Specifically, at least 1,997 children were abused by at least 451 Catholic priests throughout the last 70 years. Before the Illinois AG conducted this investigation, the dioceses only acknowledged that 103 priests had been suspected of or investigated for child sexual abuse. In other words, it appears that the Illinois Catholic Dioceses had intentionally hidden information about 78% of known child sexual abuse reports within its folds.

In direct response to the groundbreaking investigation, it is now expected that Illinois Congressmembers will push for new legislation that will lift or greatly expand the statute of limitations of child sexual abuse claims filed in civil court. Many other states have taken the same steps to ensure that child sexual abuse survivors are given a fair chance to demand justice by taking legal action against the religious organizations that harbored their abusers.

Let us help. Call (303) 835-9227 for a confidential and no-cost case evaluation.

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Illinois Clergy Sex Abuse Claims

Filing Against Religious Groups & Institutions

Were you sexually abused by a member of the clergy or Diocese in Illinois? It is understandably difficult to speak up and ask for help, but please know that Sex Abuse Survivor Lawyers are here to empower you and amplify your voice. You may be able to hold the sexual abuser and the religious group that harbored them in civil court to demand justice and compensation. With our Illinois clergy sex abuse lawsuit attorneys by your side and leading the way, you will be ready for every step of the process. We proudly stand up for childhood sexual abuse survivors and people who were sexually abused as adults.

Please contact us now for a free and confidential case evaluation. Dial (303) 835-9227.

Meet Our Compassionate Team

  • Michael  Nimmo Photo
    Michael Nimmo Attorney

    Michael is a compassionate, driven voice for victims of sexual abuse and assault. He specializes in representing survivors of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment by the clergy, educators, employers, and individuals. Michael has years of experience in representing many sexual abuse survivors and is trauma trained in handling sexual abuse survivor clients and their cases. Michael’s experience and success representing survivors comes from his compassion to help others and his drive to hold the sexual abuse survivors responsible for their conduct. Michael is an expert on sexual abuse law, and he has been involved in changing laws to help survivors. He has drafted bills and testified before the legislature in support of the bills with which he has worked.

  • Charles R. Mendez Photo
    Charles Mendez Attorney

    Charles R. Mendez has devoted his career to representing survivors of sexual abuse, including those who have been abused by parents, clergy and pastors, teachers, employers, coaches, therapists, and medical professionals. In helping obtain millions of dollars for his clients, he has fought schools, religious institutions, businesses, and the state. Charles is passionate about helping survivors navigate the legal process in a way that is healing and empowering. He seeks to achieve justice for his clients by holding both the perpetrators of abuse, as well as the institutions that enabled them, accountable. For many years in a row, Charles has been selected as a Super Lawyer’s “Rising Star” and Best Lawyer’s “Ones to Watch.”

  • Katie  Sharp Photo
    Katie Sharp Paralegal

    Katie is an invaluable member to the survivors the firm represents. She is a paralegals on the Sexual Abuse litigation team and throughout her time working on sexual abuse cases, she has had the privilege of communicating with over 100 survivors of child and adult sexual abuse. With a foundation in trauma training, and a passion for helping, it is her main goal to meet every survivor with compassion, empathy and the support they need in order to openly and freely discuss the profound experiences that have impacted their lives.

  • Brian  Delgado Photo
    Brian Delgado Paralegal

    Brian has dedicated most of my legal career to assisting and guiding clients navigate their legal cases with clarity and mindfulness. From his start working as a social worker to his current position as a paralegal working with survivors of sexual abuse, his journey often placed him face-to-face with the most challenging part of any restorative process-the emotional and psychological fall out stemming from abuse or neglect. In addition, possessing a Trauma Informed Approach certification has helped Brian become the safe and trustworthy resource that our sex abuse clients deserve and expect.

  • The National Trial Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Best Law Firms U.S. News & World Report
  • The National Trial Lawyers (Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyers)
  • American Association for Justice
  • Best Lawyers

In The Media

  • The New York Times
  • Fox
  • CNN
  • ESPN
  • The Washington Post

Notable Cases

  • $490,000,000 for Sexual Abuse Survivors at the University of Michigan

    Attorneys at our firm recently represented more than 200 survivors of sexual abuse, including many male athletes and students. These survivors’ claims were settled against the University of Michigan for three plus decades of abuse by Dr. Robert Anderson. The settlement amount was $490 million, which is the largest known sexual abuse settlement on behalf of male survivors.

  • Multiple millions against a Public School District

    Attorneys at our firm represented a young female student who was sexually assaulted by her teacher. Our firm successfully settled her claim against the public school district that employed the teacher for millions of dollars.

  • Over $1,000,000 for sexual abuse survivors claims against Catholic Church

    Our firm has represented many men who were sexually assaulted as children by a priest. We have successfully resolved several of those clergy child sexual abuse claims on behalf of the survivors

Lifelong Harm Caused by Clergy Sexual Abuse

Clergy sexual abuse is not something that only harms a child during childhood. No, instead clergy sexual abuse commonly causes permanent physical, mental, and emotional harm to the survivors.

People who were sexually abused as children by clergy members commonly suffer from:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Insomnia
  • Disassociation
  • Low self-esteem

When calculating the compensation owed to a clergy sexual abuse survivor, our attorneys will consider all these complications and more. A financial recovery cannot undo the inexcusable harm inflicted upon you by a clergy member that you once trusted, but it can help you gain financial stability and the foothold you need to start finding closure.

Demand Justice – Let Us Help

At Sexual Abuse Survivor Lawyers, our Illinois clergy sexual abuse attorneys are adamant about securing justice for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and child sexual abuse. With the Illinois AG investigation recently completed, this is the right time to discover your rights and demand justice for what you survived. We must hold the Illinois Archdiocese and Dioceses accountable for its egregious failure to protect children from unthinkable harm. Start by sharing your story with our compassionate and experienced legal team.

  • Record-Setting Victories For Our Clients
    Our sexual abuse attorneys have a track record of landmark verdicts and settlements, including a case in which we represented more than 160 survivors of sexual abuse against a doctor who may have abused student-athletes at the University of Michigan.
  • Decades Of Experience On Your Side
    With decades of combined legal experience, our sexual abuse attorneys have represented victims who were sexually abused or assaulted by members of the clergy, educators, and employers who abused their positions of authority and trust.
  • Individualized Attention & Care

    We believe that every case is special and every client deserves to be treated with personalized care. That is why we spare no expense in pursuing the justice that our clients deserve, including working with experts, counselors, and investigators.

  • Passionate Advocates For Justice

    Over the years, our sexual abuse lawyers have gained a reputation as advocates for those who were sexually abused. We have also provided support for criminal prosecutions and developed creative strategies to prosecute claims for damages.

What is Clergy Sexual Abuse?

Clergy sexual abuse occurs when a member of a religious institution sexually abuses a churchgoer. Typically, clergy sexual abuse cases involve an official within the Catholic Church who abuses a minor. However, the term can be more broadly used to describe sexual abuse conducted by a member of any religious organization against anyone who comes to them for religious guidance.

Grooming by Clergy Members

One of the most common methods used by clergy members who sexually abuse minors is grooming. In brief, grooming involves a person of authority gaining the trust of a child with the intent of getting them alone and sexually abusing them later. For example, a priest might tell a child to meet them after regular religious service hours to talk about the scripture and then abuse the child when no one else is around.

Grooming by clergy members often involves these steps:

  1. Picking a victim, such as a child who already frequently spends time at the church.
  2. Isolating the victim, such as by telling the parents that the child needs additional spiritual counseling.
  3. Abusing the victim after establishing their authority over them so the victim does not know how to ask for help.

Clery sexual abuse can take various forms, and here are some common ones:

  • Physical Abuse - This involves any form of physical harm or violence inflicted by a member of the clergy on a victim. It may include hitting, punching, slapping, or other forms of physical assault.
  • Sexual Abuse - This form of abuse involves any unwanted sexual behavior or contact perpetrated by a member of the clergy against a victim. It can range from inappropriate touching, fondling, or kissing to more severe forms such as rape or sexual exploitation.
  • Psychological or Emotional Abuse - This form of abuse involves using words, actions, or threats to manipulate, intimidate, or control a victim emotionally or psychologically. It can include verbal insults, humiliation, manipulation, or threats of harm.
  • Spiritual Abuse - Spiritual abuse occurs when a member of the clergy exploits their position of authority to manipulate or control a victim spiritually or religiously. This can include using religious teachings or doctrines to justify abusive behavior, coercing victims into certain religious practices, or exploiting their spiritual beliefs for the abuser's gain.
  • Grooming - Grooming is a process by which an abuser builds a relationship with their victim to gain their trust and establish emotional connection before engaging in abusive behavior. Clergy may groom individuals by offering them special attention, gifts, or spiritual guidance, gradually blurring boundaries to make the victim more vulnerable to abuse.
  • Exploitation of Power and Authority - Clergy members hold positions of authority and trust within their religious communities, which can be exploited to perpetrate abuse. They may use their authority to silence victims, manipulate perceptions within the community, or coerce compliance from victims who fear repercussions for speaking out.
  • Cover-Up and Denial - In many cases, clergy sexual abuse is compounded by efforts to cover up or deny the abuse by religious institutions. This can involve concealing evidence, discouraging victims from reporting the abuse, or transferring the accused clergy member to another location rather than addressing the problem directly.

The following several parties who can be held liable for clergy sexual abuse:

  • Individual Clergy Members - The perpetrator of the abuse, whether a priest, minister, rabbi, imam, or other religious leader, can be held personally liable for their actions. They may face criminal charges, civil lawsuits, or disciplinary action within their religious organization.
  • Religious Institutions - The religious institution to which the abusive clergy member belongs may also be held liable for clergy sexual abuse under certain circumstances. This could include churches, mosques, synagogues, or other religious organizations. Liability may arise if the institution knew or should have known about the abuse and failed to take appropriate action to prevent it or if they engaged in a cover-up or enabled the abuse to continue.
  • Supervisory Clergy or Administrators - Clergy members or administrators within the religious hierarchy who had knowledge of the abuse or were in a position to prevent it but failed to take action may also be held liable. This could include bishops, elders, deacons, or other leaders with supervisory responsibilities.
  • Employees and Volunteers - Individuals who work or volunteer within religious institutions and who were aware of the abuse or contributed to its occurrence may also face liability. This could include staff members, counselors, teachers, or others who had contact with the victim or perpetrator.
  • Third Parties - In some cases, third parties such as contractors, counselors, or other professionals who had a duty to report suspected abuse but failed to do so may be held liable for clergy sexual abuse.
  • Legal Entities - Legal entities associated with the religious institution, such as dioceses, parishes, or religious orders, may also bear liability for clergy sexual abuse if they were negligent in their oversight or failed to implement adequate policies and procedures to prevent abuse.
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    They handled our very difficult case with brilliance. Every chess move was outlined from the start and was proven to be spot-on. The team helped our family to align our goals and expectations for the case with the law.

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    I would recommend this firm to anyone needing excellent representation. Michael Nimmo and Marina Lovato were always there whenever I needed something. They took a very stressful situation and made it so much easier to get through. They are a firm that can

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