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Clergy Abuse Illinois

Attorney Jeff Anderson speaks as attorney Marc Pearlman, left, and clergy abuse victims listen during a news conference Wednesday in Chicago. Advocates for clergy abuse victims say their list of 395 priests or lay people in Illinois who have been publicly accused of sexually abusing children is far more extensive than the names already released by the state's six dioceses. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

CHICAGO — Two clergy members with ties to the Mattoon area are listed in a sweeping report compiled by attorneys who represent victims of sexual abuse by priests. They say the 185-page document issued Wednesday is the most comprehensive list yet of Catholic clergy with ties to Illinois who have been accused of misconduct against children.

The list includes about 400 priests and lay people who at one time served in parishes or schools or otherwise worked in the state, with accusations spanning more than a half-century. That number far exceeds the roughly 200 priests who have already been publicly identified by Illinois' six Catholic dioceses.

"The data reveal the horrifying scale of priests sexually assaulting minors to the present day," the report said. "Perhaps most shocking among the discoveries is that some perpetrators were intentionally transferred and retained in trusted positions with direct access to children even after they were known to sexually abuse children."

Andrew Hansen, spokesperson for the Diocese of Springfield, released this response to the report.

"First, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki want to again offer our profound sadness and deep sorrow for the shameful wrongs and evils perpetrated during a dark chapter in our Church history where innocent believers were abused at the hands of some clergy," he said. "The extreme hurt some of our clergy caused decades ago is a disgrace, and it grieves all of us to see the suffering these sins have caused. The Diocese of Springfield pledges continued efforts to bring healing to the victims and survivors of this evil."

Many of the priests named in the new report have already been publicly identified in news stories and court records, even if they don't appear on dioceses' official lists. The dioceses generally used different standards for publicly identifying priests, in some cases omitting clergy when claims against them could not be substantiated or when an allegation was after the priest died.

The new study, called The Anderson Report, takes a broader approach, including any priest, seminarian or religious employee — in some cases of Catholic orders outside the dioceses — who has ever been accused of child sexual abuse, whether or not the claim was found credible or the alleged abuse occurred in Illinois.

The authors note that in many cases settlements were paid to victims, but in numerous other cases the alleged abuses were never substantiated in court, sometimes because statute of limitations prevented lawsuits or criminal investigations from moving forward.

The following is a list of the priests who served at some point in the Mattoon area:

  • Fr. Robert “Bud’ DeGrand is alleged to have sexually abused a child in approximately 1980 while he worked at Our Savior Church in Jacksonville. He was reportedly assigned to St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Neoga and St. Michael the Archangel Church in Sigel between 2000-2014, and to Sacred Heart in Sigel between 2006-2014. It is believed DeGrand lived in Sigel at one point. DeGrand’s whereabouts are unknown.
  • The Rev. Richard Niebrugge worked in the Diocese of Springfield for about two decades, including being assigned to the Immaculate Conception Church in Mattoon in 1983, before his death in 1983. A woman filed a civil lawsuit in 2004 alleging that Niebrugge had sexually abused her during the 1960s and 1970s. Niebrugge is listed as taking sick leave in 1973 in Decatur.

Watch the news conference here:

In November, the Springfield Diocese released a list Springfield with the names of 19 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children, none of whom are in active ministry, and 13 of whom are deceased.

The disclosures were in response to a review by the state Attorney General's office, which since August has been investigating the Roman Catholic Church after a Pennsylvania grand jury report identified at least seven priests with a connection to Illinois.

The Springfield list did not detail when the alleged incidents occurred. 

The Springfield Diocese said the list was determined by a review board in place since 2002 composed of predominantly lay people with professional backgrounds in areas such as state and local law enforcement, criminal and civil law, education and psychology. 

The 129-parish Springfield Diocese headed by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, covers 28 counties in Central Illinois, including Christian, Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Effingham, Fayette, Macon Moultrie, Sangamon and Shelby counties and has 145,000 Catholics.

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Former Attorney General Lisa Madigan's preliminary report was critical of the Illinois dioceses' handling of abuse allegations, saying their investigations were sometimes flawed and lacked transparency, but her office did not release a full list of accused priests.

The victims' advocates who released Wednesday's new report, attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman, said at the time that they would release their own list of names -- as they have in other areas of the country -- if Illinois officials did not make their own list public.

Madigan's successor, Kwame Raoul, issued a statement before he took office in January saying he remained committed to continuing the probe. His office has not released further information on the inquiry, citing the ongoing investigation.

The report aims to expose the full scope of clergy abuse within the Catholic church and provide support for people who have been victimized. It also seeks to provide more information on possible perpetrators as the Illinois Attorney General's office continues its own investigation. And it aims to paint a fuller picture of which parishes accused priests worked in over the course of their careers.

John O'Malley, who serves as special counsel to the Archdiocese on misconduct issues, said the church has reported all allegations to law enforcement since 1992 when Cardinal Joseph Bernardin led a commission on the scandal. In 2002, U.S. Bishops adopted the policy nationwide.

"If the public authorities choose not to prosecute or can't prosecute, we then have our own investigate process," O'Malley said Wednesday. "If as a result of the public authorities, or if as a result of our own process, an allegation is substantiated, it has been posted on our website with a description since 2006."

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The sex abuse scandal has roiled the church for decades, but it received renewed attention last year after a sweeping grand jury report in Pennsylvania identified more than 300 predator priests. In response to the report, Madigan launched her own investigation in August.

In December, Madigan said her preliminary findings indicated that 690 clergy members were accused of abuse, but the Illinois Dioceses had only identified 185 clergy at that time as having been "credibly accused." Some names have since been added to some of those public lists and some Catholic religious orders, including the Midwest Province of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit order, released their own lists of accused priests, brothers or lay people around the time Madigan's preliminary findings were unveiled.

Madigan's bombshell report also found that Illinois dioceses did not investigate cases in many instances, including in some cases if a lawsuit had been filled, when a victim wanted to remain anonymous, when only one complainant came forward or if the clergy member had previously resigned. In cases where the claim involved clergy who were visiting from a religious order, the allegations were often referred to the order, rather than being investigated by the diocese, the Madigan report said.

O'Malley disputed that finding as it applied to the Chicago Archdiocese, saying all allegations had been forwarded to law enforcement over nearly three decades. He acknowledged the possibility that oversights occurred in other Illinois dioceses.

On Wednesday, Raoul's office released a statement saying, it "will review any new information that could be relevant" for the ongoing investigation.

The list of credibly accused clergy members provided by the Archdiocese also does not include the names of clergy members if an allegation surfaced after the accused had died. The Archdiocese may also not include a name if the priest was listed by a different Diocese.

Anderson and Pearlman made a point to include those cases in theirs.

In one example, a priest who was reportedly ministering at St. Stanislaus Church in Chicago's Posen neighborhood between 1963 and 1964 was named in the Pennsylvania report. According to the grand jury report, the Rev. Raymond Lukac, who died in 2000, had a history of misconduct, including an allegation from when he served in the Diocese of Gary. The report said that the Archdiocese of Chicago requested information about Lukac in August 2006 after receiving a complaint that Lukac had sexually abused an 11-year-old girl between 1962 and 1964 in in the St. Stanislaus rectory.

Asked why the Archdiocese does not include names of priests who have died before an allegation arises, O'Malley said the priest has no opportunity to defend himself.

"The church's policy has been not include it for the reason that in the case of the deceased priest, there is no risk to children and there is no question of fitness of ministry."

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