- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 21, 2014

For decades, the Archdiocese of Chicago struggled to prevent a sexual abuse scandal from going public. It tried to monitor and manage priests accused of abusing children, forced them to get psychological counseling and moved them from parish to parish.

Lawyers for some of the victims planned Tuesday to release some 6,000 pages of documents detailing the cases of 30 accused priests as part of a legal settlement with the church.


Here is a timeline of key events in the decades-long scandal:

- April 25, 1982: Archbishop John Cody dies. He is succeeded by Joseph Bernadin.

- Nov. 15, 1985: The Rev. Robert Friese becomes the first priest from the archdiocese to be convicted of a sex crime in a criminal prosecution. He’s sentenced to four years of probation for molesting a teenage boy.

- Oct. 25, 1991: Cardinal Bernadin sets up the Cardinal’s Commission on Clerical Misconduct to investigate abuse allegations and review existing policies after a succession of public allegations and the indictment of a priest, the Rev. Robert Mayer.

- Dec. 11, 1992: Mayer is convicted of abusing a teenage girl in a church rectory in Berwyn. In February 1993 he becomes the first priest from the archdiocese to be sentenced to prison, receiving a three-year term.

- January 1993: The archdiocese implements the commission’s recommendations, including for a nine-member Fitness Review Board to examine evidence in specific questions and make recommendations to the cardinal. Allegations that come into the board are to be reported to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

- 1993: Bernardin himself is accused of sexual abuse. In a $10 million lawsuit, Steven Cook accuses Bernadin of molesting him in the 1970s while Cook was a seminary student and Bernadin was archbishop of Cincinnati. Cook later recants the accusation, saying his memory was unreliable.

- June 8, 1994: The Rev. Norbert Maday is sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting two teenage boys.

- Nov. 14, 1996: Bernadin dies from pancreatic cancer at age 68. He is succeeded by Francis George, the current archbishop.

- June 14, 2002: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops enacts the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Archdiocese of Chicago incorporates the charter’s provisions into its own policies. Among the changes, the archdiocese reports to prosecutors all allegations, including those it believes are without foundation. The archdiocese no longer seeks confidentiality clauses in settlements.

- Oct. 2, 2003: The archdiocese reaches an $8 million settlement with 15 people who say they were victims of sex abuse between 1954 and the early 1990s.

- July 2, 2007: The Rev. Daniel McCormack pleads guilty to abusing five boys between the ages of 8 and 12. He serves 2 ½ years of a five-year prison sentence. Church officials acknowledge they mishandled the allegations against McCormack. After McCormack’s 2006 indictment, Cardinal George told parishioners he should have pushed harder to find out details about the allegations. George launched an eight-month internal church investigation that found procedures for removing priests from the ministry were “far from perfect.”

- March 20, 2006: The archdiocese makes public on its website a list of former priests with substantiated allegations against them.

- Aug. 12, 2008: The archdiocese reaches a $12.6 million settlement with 16 abuse victims. The accusations involved 11 priests, including McCormack. As part of the settlement, a 307-page deposition of Cardinal George is made public in which he acknowledges he took no action when the review board recommended removing McCormack from the ministry two months after the priest was arrested in August 2005. The church also agrees to release the documents being made public this week.

- Aug. 29, 2011: The archdiocese reaches a settlement with a man who says he was abused as a boy by the Rev. Joseph Fitzharris.

- Nov. 26, 2013: Attorneys announce a $2.3 million settlement between the archdiocese and a man who says he was abused by McCormack as a teenager. The archdiocese settled a previous case involving McCormack for $3.2 million in 2011.

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