Chicago: Almost 700 clergy in Illinois have been accused of child sexual assault, a far greater number than the Catholic Church had previously disclosed, the US state’s top prosecutor revealed Wednesday.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said the Church’s revelations that 185 clergy members were credibly accused of sexual abuse fell short of the number her office has uncovered.

The preliminary results of an investigation that began in August found more than 500 additional priests and clergy members with child sexual abuse allegations in the Midwestern state’s six dioceses — a total of 690 accused.

“By choosing not to thoroughly investigate allegations, the Catholic Church has failed in its moral obligation to provide survivors, parishioners and the public a complete and accurate accounting of all sexually inappropriate behaviour involving priests in Illinois,” Madigan said in a statement.