Matt C. Abbott
November 18, 2011
The scandal that won't go away
By Matt C. Abbott

Thomas R. Hampson, an Illinois licensed private investigator and founder of the Truth Alliance Foundation, is determined to expose corruption — in the church and in society at large.

"It's clear to me that the crime problem has expanded as our collective values and character have deteriorated," says Hampson. "We need to address that core problem, and the church — defined as the people of God, not the institution or denomination — needs to take the lead. The first challenge is to clean up our own house."

Hampson knows it will be a daunting task, but he's ready, willing and able. His résumé is impressive: In the 1960s he worked for the U.S. Air Force Security Service as an intelligence analyst. In the 1970s and early 1980s he worked for the Illinois Legislative Investigating Commission as a chief investigator. From 1983 to 2004 he served as president of Search International, Inc., a company he established as an international investigation and security agency.

And from March 2006 to September 2007, Hampson was hired as a contract employee by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to investigate the sexual exploitation of children by priests.

It was that portion of his career that shook him up the most.

"In all the years I've been doing investigative work, it was the year-and-a-half of my investigation into clergy abuse that really took its toll," he says.

The Truth Alliance Foundation plans to help Christian churches and non-profit organizations combat child sexual abuse by: educating leaders and members on the scope and nature of child sexual abuse; helping to set up screening programs to identify potential perpetrators; conducting crisis response investigations in the event an incident occurs; investigating selected cases of abuse and/or selected networks of predators in order to add to our knowledge and understanding of the problem.

One case Hampson has been investigating involves the unsolved 1984 Chicago murder of Frank Pellegrini. Pellegrini was a prominent figure in the local Italian-American community who was known by several priests, including novelist Andrew Greeley, who subsequently alluded to the murder in one of his non-fiction books.

A friend of Pellegrini told the homicide detective assigned to investigate the murder that Pellegrini was about to blow the whistle on a group of priests and others who were collectively engaged in sexually abusing children. The group called itself the "Boys' Club," and the witness believed Pellegrini was murdered to silence him about these activities.

The homicide detective (now deceased) then pursued this as one possible motive. He later got back to the witness and said he had "opened up a can of s--t so huge that he had to put the lid back on it." Reportedly the Chicago Police Department pursued no further investigation along those lines.

Hampson says many of the priests and laymen involved in the "Boys' Club" are still in the Chicago area and are active. He's doing everything in his power to expose them, but years of political cover-up make it extremely difficult to do so.

Ultimately, Hampson hopes that a number of God-fearing people will join him in the effort to combat child sexual abuse, the scope of which "cannot even be adequately described."

Even the recent Penn State scandal, Hampson says, "is much larger than anyone currently can see. What we see is the very tip of a very large iceberg."

And he warns us not to expect politicians to be the solution. "No matter how much lip service politicians have given this problem, and no matter how much money has been thrown at it, the right things are not being done."

To contact the Truth Alliance Foundation, visit www.truthalliancefoundation.org.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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