Chicago Archdiocese Abuse Lawsuits

Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois


In recent years, attorneys have filed numerous sexual abuse cases against the Chicago Archdiocese on behalf of a wide range of clients. While many cases are still in progress, several cases have resulted in settlements for sexual abuse survivors.

If you or a loved one is a sexual abuse survivor, choosing whether to pursue a case can be a difficult decision. However, learning about the details of prior cases can give you a better idea of how your own might proceed. Take a closer look at some Chicago Archdiocese lawsuits and learn more about the circumstances and outcomes of these cases.

Over $80 Million in Chicago Archdiocese Abuse Settlements

For almost two decades, sexual abuse lawyers and their clients have been filing and appealing lawsuits against the Chicago Archdiocese. Altogether, over $80 million in settlements1 have been obtained during a 20-year period.

On average, these settlements reached an average of $500,0002. However, certain settlements totaled more than $1 million. As with most clergy sexual abuse cases, the size of the settlement reflects the scale and duration of the abuse and any related cover-up.

In total, 48 perpetrators have been identified and 160 sex abuse survivors have been able to pursue justice against the Archdiocese. Although the perpetrators served as priests or deacons within the Chicago Archdiocese, they were known to have been based at a number of different schools, churches and cathedrals throughout the Chicago-metro area.

24 Abuse Survivors vs. the Chicago Archdiocese

One of the largest Chicago Archdiocese abuse lawsuits3 concluded in 2005. Two dozen adult survivors testified that they endured abuse as children that was committed by 14 diocesan priests. The abuse occurred between 1957 and 1987, when the survivors were between 8 and 17 years old.

The abuser priests served at a variety of churches in the Chicagoland area, including St. Denis of Chicago, St. Bede the Venerable, and St. Veronica in Chicago. Others served at St. Cletus in La Grange, St. Anne Parish in Hazel Crest, and St. Terrence in Alsip. While none of the priests were able to continue in their roles, consequences varied. One served jail time, two were no longer permitted to engage in public ministry, and several had already passed away when the case concluded.

The lawyers representing survivors obtained settlements through mediation rather than lawsuits. Settlements for the survivors varied. As Chicago’s WGN reports, at least one survivor stated that he felt peace of mind after speaking out about his experience, as many other survivors continue to suffer in silence.

Clarence George v. the Chicago Archdiocese

While several people have accused Rev. John Smyth4 of sexual abuse, Clarence George was the first to file a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago. Like Smyth’s other accusers, George was a ward of the state and endured abuse as a student at Maryville Academy, where the priest was superintendent. He reported the abuse to the academy’s staff, who neglected to take appropriate action.

After other survivors filed complaints with the Archdiocese, Smyth was removed from public ministry. Though the priest has since passed away, George’s lawsuit against the Archdiocese continues to move forward.

John Doe v. the Chicago Archdiocese

In some cases, more than a decade may pass between the initial accusations of abuse and the resulting settlement. After a sexual abuse survivor known as John Doe accused Rev. John Calicott of assault in the 1990s, the priest was removed from ministry.

Loyal parishioners petitioned the church to reinstate the priest, but John Doe and his legal team continued to pursue the case. In 2019, the case concluded and he received a settlement for $8 million from the Chicago Archdiocese5.

Future Cases Against the Chicago Archdiocese

Although survivors have already recovered tens of millions of dollars in settlements from the Chicago Archdiocese, these cases are far from finished. The Chicago Tribune reports6 that the Archdiocese expects upcoming settlements to total nearly $160 million, in addition to the more than $200 million that the Archdiocese has already paid in total.If you or a family member has survived sexual abuse by a clergymember or employee of the Chicago Archdiocese, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Instead, you may have legal recourse. To take the first step toward getting the justice you deserve, partner with a law firm that has extensive experience with sexual abuse cases. At Janet, Janet & Suggs, we have successfully pursued a range of clergy abuse lawsuits, including a $1.88 million verdict against a Pennsylvania diocese.

No matter when you endured the abuse, it’s in your best interest to take action as soon as possible. Contact our accomplished sexual abuse lawyers today for a free, no-obligation consultation, and learn about your legal options.


1 ABC News Chicago, “Late Father John Smyth named in Chicago Archdiocese clergy abuse scandal; $80M awarded in settlements involving 48 Archdiocesans, 160 victims since 2001,” September 17, 2019

2 Mike Lowe, “Chicago archdiocese paid $80 million to abuse victims represented by firm, lawyer says,” WGN 9 Chicago, last modified Sep 17, 2019

3 Manya A. Brachear, “24 victims of priests settle,” Chicago Tribune, October 28, 2005

4 Brad Edwards, “First Lawsuit Filed Against Chicago Archdiocese Accusing Rev. John Smyth Of Sexual Abuse,” CBS Chicago, September 16, 2019

5 Chicago Sun-Times, “Lawyer says $8 million settlement reached with Chicago Archdiocese over priest abuse,” August 8, 2019

6 Madeline Buckley and Elyssa Cherney, “Financial toll of priest sex abuse on Chicago Archdiocese? $220 million and climbing,” Chicago Tribune, Sept 17, 2019.

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