GOLD COAST — Documents detailing sexual abuse cases against 30 archdiocesan priests will be released to the public on Jan. 21, lawyers for the victims said Wednesday.
The announcement comes after the Archdiocese of Chicago handed over more than 6,000 pages of internal documents to Jeff Anderson, a Chicago attorney who sued the church on behalf of dozens of sexual abuse victims.
The archdiocese released the paperwork — which includes information on more than 30 substantiated sexual abuse cases — to Anderson's firm Wednesday as part of the victims' settlements.
"By offering these documents, we hope to heal all of those afflicted by this terrible, terrible crime," Bishop Francis Kane said Wednesday, as he spoke at a news conference in archdiocese headquarters, 835 N. Rush St.
"The information is upsetting. The information is painful. It's difficult to read," said John O'Malley, director of legal services for the archdiocese. "We believe, however, that this step is an important step in the process of transparency."
Attorney Marc Pearlman, who along with Anderson represents the victims in these cases, called the news conference "disappointing."
"To me, it's a bit of a spin suggesting the diocese is doing something proactive when, in fact, the only reason this is being done is because victims and survivors demanded it," Pearlman said. "These documents would've never reached the light of day."
Pearlman said his office will wait to release the documents until next week so that it can organize the more than 6,000 pages into "a format that's user-friendly."
"This has been a long time coming," Pearlman said. "The documents will reveal a systemic, institutional cover-up at the expense of children in an effort to preserve" the clergy.
The archdiocese was quick to point out that most of the 30 cases occurred before 1988 and all were reported to secular authorities. Church representatives detailed precautions that are now taken to avoid future sexual abuse, such as training and background checks.
To date, there have been 65 substantiated cases of priests sexually abusing parishioners within the Archdiocese of Chicago, a representative for the church said.