Archdiocese of Chicago’s History of Failing to Address Allegations of Abuse by Deceased Clergy

Terry Neary was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Ethelreda’s parish in Chicago when he was sexually abused by Rev. William R. Leyhane in 1971. Although there were multiple instances of abuse, Neary would suppress his memories of the encounter until 1980, when as a student pursuing a doctorate at Loyola University Chicago, he shared his experienced with therapists. In 2001, Neary filed a report with the Archdiocese of Chicago detailing his memories of abuse at the hands of Rev. Leyhane, who had passed away in the 80’s.

Allegations of Abuse by Deceased Priest Never Made Public

While the church determined the alleged abuse was “possible”, the deceased priest has never been listed on the church’s website that identifies nearly 80 members of clergy alleged to have committed abuse against children, nor were Neary’s allegations ever officially substantiated by the archdiocese. According to the archdiocese’s Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review, deceased priests with credible allegations of child sex abuse are not considered a threat to the public and therefore not listed publicly. Only two of the state’s six diocese even featured such lists on their websites before a probe into clergy abuse was launched by the Illinois attorney general’s office­­. One of which is the Diocese of Joliet, where Thomas Neary, now in his sixties, was recently ordained as a deacon and continues his fight to have his alleged abuser listed publicly while maintaining his love for God and the Church.

State of Illinois Response to Church’s Handling of Clergy Abuse

Former state attorney general, Lisa Madigan began a probe into clergy abuse in 2018 and before leaving office concluded “Failing to investigate deceased or resigned clergy ignores both the impact such a decision has on survivors seeking closure and that an investigation might lead other survivors to come forward…Failing to investigate also makes it impossible to determine whether other clergy, including those who are alive and involved with the church, helped conceal the abuse.” The current Attorney General in Illinois has not been as publicly transparent as his predecessor, but the probe is still ongoing.

If you have experienced abuse at the hands of clergy, it is important to find a legal advocate with the necessary experience to secure you justice. Attorney Paul Mones has a long history of pursuing justice and compensation from the Catholic Church, and other large organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, for survivors from all backgrounds and walks of life. When you are ready to begin your search for justice against those who harmed you, seek Paul Mones to advocate on your behalf and guide you to justice.