STREETERVILLE — More than 6,000 pages of documents detailing sexual abuse cases against 30 archdiocesan priests were posted online Tuesday morning.
The Archdiocese of Chicago released the documents to sex abuse attorney Jeff Anderson last Wednesday as part of a legal settlement with the priests' victims.
On Tuesday, Anderson's firm made the documents publicly available here. Some information has been redacted to protect victims' privacy.
"The story today is not that these priests were abusing kids. That story has been told," said attorney Marc Pearlman, who worked on the case. "What's new today is that these documents reveal the decisions leadership made."
Pearlman said the documents show "a pattern of repeated abuse and repeated allegations" across several parishes. It was common, for example, for church leaders to simply move abusive priests to other churches once a complaint was made.
"These files reflect a systemic, ongoing [pattern where] top officials made conscious decisions time and time again to protect the offender, to protect the reputation of the archdiocese, to avoid scandal," Anderson said.
"Hundreds and hundreds of children were hurt by those conscious choices," he said.
The Archdiocese of Chicago released a statement Tuesday pointing out that 95 percent of the incidents in the documents occurred prior to 1988.
"The Archdiocese acknowledges that its leaders made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify. They made those decisions in accordance with the prevailing knowledge at the time. In the past 40 years, society has evolved in dealing with matters related to abuse," the statement reads.
"We realize the information included in these documents is upsetting. It is painful to read. It is not the Church we know or the Church we want to be. The Archdiocese sincerely apologizes for the hurt and suffering of the victims and their families as a result of this abuse," the statement said.
To date, the church said, there have been substantiated sexual abuse claims made against 65 archdiocesan priests. Only 30 were included in the documents because those were the priests mentioned in Anderson's lawsuit.
Anderson said on Tuesday his work has only just begun. He plans to fight for the public release of information on the 35 other priests.