There is no question in the minds of the attorneys representing abuse victims that the more than 6,000 pages of documents show a massive cover up by the Chicago Archdiocese that lasted decades and includes Francis Cardinal George.
The victims’ attorneys Jeff Anderson and Marc Pearlman were on WGN Morning News Wednesday, and Anderson said: “These documents reveal clearly that all of the top officials, both current and past, are involved in the concealment of the truth and the crimes, and that includes Cardinal George.”
The lingering question, however, is will these old documents bring new criminal charges. WGN’s legal analyst says probably not, and Anderson’s co-council nearly agreed Wednesday morning.
“In most cases, because of the failure to report, criminal statues have expired. But that doesn’t mean that the church itself shouldn’t take measures to discipline the people who are responsible for these actions,” Perarlman said.
Still, they implore law enforcement officials to scour the documents to look for any evidence a crime. SNAP, a church abuse victims’ advocacy group, held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to demand action against Cardinal George and others.
“To law enforcement agencies: Be creative about pursuing any charges against the hierarchy. Whether it’s perjury, endangering kids, committing fraud, obstructing justice,” said Kate Bochte with SNAP.
The Chicago Archdiocese has repeatedly said mistakes were made and changes have been made to the way sexual abuse allegations are dealt with. The archdiocese says Cardinal George has helped lead the church to make these changes.
But in a 2008deposition concerning Daniel McCormack, a priest who preyed on young men, Anderson asked why the cardinal didn’t follow his own board’s recommendation to remove McCormack from the ministry.
George said: “They gave me that advice. I wish that I had followed it with all my heart.
“I don’t think Cardinal George or any of the other persons mentioned at yesterday’s conference had any intent to harm children at all,” said Jan Slattery with the Chicago Archdiocese.
Despite what these documents depict, the statute of limitations will likely bar additional criminal charges. But victims’ attorneys say while the courts may not be able to act there is one man who can take action that would set the tone for abuse cases going forward.
“Pope Francis, who promised a new day and a new way, discipline Cardinal George for his role and every other top official in this. He has the power and the obligation now that the truth is known,” Anderson said.