A paper trail of sexual misconduct involving 30 priests and the Archdiocese of Chicago's slow and clumsy handling of the cases is revealed in thousands of pages of documents released online Tuesday.
Most of the misconduct took place decades ago -- and most of the Roman Catholic priests involved were never criminally prosecuted. Victims' lawyers, who released the documents, had pressed for public access to the records to show that the archdiocese concealed abuse for decades, including moving priests to new parishes where they molested again.
Lawyer Chris Hurley, whose firm represents more than a dozen people pressing abuse suits against the archdiocese, said accusations against the priests were well known before the documents' release.
"What the archdiocese had not let us know about is how much they knew all along," Hurley said.
Meeting schedules, accusatory letters from parishioners and discussions of their claims are included in the release. The documents describe how past archbishops, including Cardinal John Cody and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, often approved the reassignments.