- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 8, 2008

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said yesterday there were 12 credible accusations of sexual abuse committed in the past 22 months in the nation’s 195 Catholic dioceses, six of which were committed by priests from other countries.

One in every five priests serving in the United States is from another country, said the report, which included statistics from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).

Fifty-five minors — split almost evenly between boys and girls — made accusations of sex abuse that they said had occurred in that 22-month period. Among those 55 complaints, 24 were judged as unfounded and 12 as credible. Six others were still being investigated and 13 were categorized as “other” because of insufficient data.

Two of the accused clerics struck a plea agreement with the secular court system, then left the country; two are awaiting trial, two are on probation, one is in jail serving a life sentence and one has fled overseas.

Including adults, 1,504 persons made accusations in 2006 and 2007 of sexual abuse involving 977 priests or deacons. The adults’ complaints were mostly about incidents that took place in the 1970s.



Eighty percent of the accusers were male and most were young: 53 percent were between the ages of 10 and 14 when the abuse began, 21 percent were ages 15-17, 14 percent were under 10, and the rest were of an undetermined age.

Annual costs related to sex-abuse accusations rose by 54 percent from 2006 to 2007, according to CARA, from $398.5 million to $615.1 million. Six dioceses have declared bankruptcy, the latest being the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska, which filed on Feb. 13.

The USCCB findings are part of an annual report mandated by U.S. bishops under the 2002 “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” issued in response to findings of massive clerical sex abuse.

The one diocese that refused to participate in the research was the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., headed by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. Four eastern Catholic eparchies — small ethnic enclaves — also refused to take part. “The board is continually reminded that this conduct, although undoubtedly within a [bishop’s] canonical power, scandalizes the faithful, who cannot understand resistance to a simple measure for the protection of children,” the report said.

Ten dioceses were found to be “non-compliant” with Article 12 of the charter that mandates “safe environment” programs for all church staff and volunteers who have contact with children. Those included the archdioceses of Anchorage, Alaska, Military Services in the District, San Francisco and Boston; the dioceses of Baker, Ore.; Baton Rouge, La., Las Cruces, N.M., Rockville Centre, N.Y., and Tulsa, Okla.; and the eparchy of St. Nicolas in Chicago.

Barbara Blaine, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, was especially alarmed about the figures on Boston and Rockville Centre.

“In Boston, 64 out of 295 parishes refuse to teach abuse prevention,” she said. “After six years, it is inexcusable that any bishop can’t keep the promises they made in 2002. The policy was so watered down, they didn’t have a very high bar to meet.”

STATUS OF SEX ABUSE CASES

These numbers provide the status of Catholic priests, both diocesan and order priests, accused in sex-abuse cases reported in 2006 and 2007

Deceased, missing or already removed 374

Permanently removed 92

Returned to ministry 17

Removed pending investigation 146

Still active pending investigation 33

Source: Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate

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