Republican candidate for attorney general Erika Harold said she wants a statewide grand jury to investigate cases of child sex abuse within the Catholic church in Illinois.
The call originally came from Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, a Catholic herself. A Pennsylvania investigation recently accused about 300 priests of abusing more than 1,000 children.
Harold said a grand jury would reveal the scope of the abuse and any efforts to conceal the abuse, but more importantly provide recommendations to improve.
“One of the things that stood out to me in reading the Pennsylvania report was the list of legislative recommendations,” Harold said. “And I think that’s particularly instructive because in many cases the statute of limitations may have passed for certain crimes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s unimportant to share those stories”
Harold’s Democratic challenger, Sen. Kwame Raoul, is a former child-abuse prosecutor, but declined to take a definitive stand.
“I don’t know, but I trust Justice Burke’s opinion because she actually served on an internal panel within the Catholic church, so she’s more informed on the details than I would (be),” Raoul said.
Raoul said he does believe the state needs to be cautious about giving the Catholic church authority to run its own internal investigation.
Harold and Raoul were in Normal for an Illinois Agricultural Legislative Roundtable candidate forum. Gov. Bruce Rauner and his Democratic challenger, J.B. Pritzker, also appeared.
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