WASHINGTON (February 18, 2005) — Over 600 diocesan priests and deaconswere accused in 2004 of sexual abuse of minors, with the majority ofallegations of abuse occurring between 1970 and 1974. Half of theseclergy had been subject of accusations previously. Most of the allegedoffenders (71 percent) were deceased, already removed from ministry, orhad been previously returned to the lay state (laicized) when the 2004allegations were made.
Approximately $19,785,325 was spent for child protectionefforts, such as training programs and background checks. Costsexpended in 2004 for settlements, therapy for victims and offenders andattorney fees was estimated at $139,582,157. This total includes sumsexpended for allegations reported in previous years.
The figures are based on a survey by the Center for AppliedResearch in the Apostolate (CARA), which was commissioned by the UnitedStates Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The Georgetown-basedCARA collected the data in December 2004 and January 2005. The surveyreport included responses from 181, or 93 percent, of the 195 diocesesand eparchies (dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Churches) in the UnitedStates. The data is part of the 2004 Annual Report of the Office ofChild and Youth Protection (OCYP), made public Feb.18 at a pressconference in Washington.
The U.S. bishops voted in November 2004 to establish a datacollection procedure whereby dioceses and eparchies would reportannually information regarding allegations of sexual abuse of minors bypriests and deacons and costs associated with the abuse.
According to the CARA data, in 2004, church authoritiesreceived at least 898 new credible allegations of sexual abuse of aminor by a diocesan or eparchial priest or deacon. The allegations weremade by 889 individuals against 622 clerics. Of this number, 876allegations were made by adult men and women who alleged abuse asminors in previous years. Of the total, 22, or two percent, were madeby boys and girls who were under the age of 18 in 2004. Of the 898total allegations, nine cases, or one percent, involved solely childpornography. Most allegations came to the attention of the diocese oreparchy from the victim (53 percent) or through an attorney (33percent).
Most of the victims were male (78 percent) and more than half(56 percent) were between the ages of 10 and 14 when the alleged abusebegan.
Of the allegations reported in 2004, 57, or six percent, weredetermined to be false by the end of that year. In addition, 59allegations received prior to January 1, 2004, were determined to befalse during 2004.
Notwithstanding the year in which the abuse was reported, 256diocesan priests and deacons remain temporarily removed from ministrypending investigation of allegations; and 35 remain in active ministrypending a preliminary investigation of an allegation.
Of the money expended in 2004, which includes sums expendedfor allegations reported in previous years, $93,364,172 was forsettlements to victims, and $6,613, 283 was for payment for therapy forvictims, if separate from settlements. Therapy for offenders amountedto $1,413,093, and payments for attorney fees were $32,706,598.
Insurance covered about 32 percent of costs.
About a third of all U.S. priests belong to religiousinstitutes. Seventy-one percent, or 158, of clerical religiousinstitutes and of mixed religious institutes belonging to theConference of Major Superiors of Men, also responded to the survey.(Mixed institutes are made up of both priests and brothers, though onlypriests were included in the survey.) These institutes reported 194 newcredible allegations of sexual abuse had been made against 134 priestsand deacons oftheir religious communities. Less than half, 43 percent, had been thesubject of previous allegations before 2004.
An estimated 78 percent of their victims were male, and anestimated 53 percent were between the ages of 10 and 14 when thealleged abuse began. Most allegations took place between 1965 and 1969.
Notwithstanding the year in which the abuse was reported, 27religious priests and deacons remain temporarily removed from ministrypending investigation of allegations; and seven remain in activeministry pending a preliminary investigation of an allegation.
Total costs expended in 2004 by religious institutes as aresult of sexual allegations made in 2004 and previously wasapproximately $18,220,654. In addition, approximately $414,084 wasspent for child protection efforts, such as training programs andbackground checks.
The CARA data did not include information that identifies anoffender or a victim. Nevertheless, the OCYP report stated, theimportance of data “in understanding and evaluating the depth of theproblem of sexual abuse within the church cannot be overstated.
“The statistics provided over time will more clearlyillustrate whether the Church has been successful in reducing theincidence of abuse,” the OCYP report noted.