USCCB: Seven "credible" allegations against priests in 2010

The organization yesterday released an update on the sex abuse crisis still roiling the Catholic Church:

Reports of current instances of sexual abuse of minors continues to decrease, with seven credible allegations against seven priests reported in 2010, according to the 2010 Survey of Allegations and Costs done by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, CARA. At the same time diocesan audits are uncovering weaknesses in audit compliance and finding reports of boundary violations short of abuse, such as inappropriate hugging.

A credible allegation is one which has a semblance of truth to it following an initial examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegation.

The survey by Georgetown University-based CARA collects numbers from the dioceses and coincides with the annual audit of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, conducted by the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. The audit reviews compliance with the Charter, and is conducted by a team of independent auditors, the Gavin Group Inc. Both the survey and audit report are available on the Web at

All dioceses responded to the CARA survey except the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, which has refused to participate in the compliance audits process since 2004. The U.S. bishops enacted the Charter in 2002 and have conducted national compliance audits annually since 2003.

In addition to the seven cases of abuse of minors in 2010, CARA also found hundreds of accounts of sexual abuse from decades ago that were reported to dioceses only last year. The “number of alleged offenders increased by a fifth, from 286 alleged offenders reported in 2009 to 345 alleged offenders reported in 2010,” CARA reported. Almost 60 percent of these offenders had been identified in earlier allegations and three quarters of the offenders are now dead or laicized.

CARA also noted that two thirds of these allegations (66 percent) are old and occurred or began between 1960 and 1984. The most common time period when these allegations reportedly occurred was 1970-1974.

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25 responses to “USCCB: Seven "credible" allegations against priests in 2010”

  1. The auditors only saw the information each diocese chose to let them see. This morning’s New York Times states the report found the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to be in full compliance:

    The twenty-plus suspensions recently announced in Philadelphia show that there is ample reason to question of the reliability of the information that at least one diocese provided. Some or many of the suspended priests may in fact be innocent. However, the suspensions strongly indicate that the allegations against the suspended priests were inadequately investigated.

  2. Only seven, I find that hard to believe when cases like this from the Diocese of Albany in Feb 2011 are being exposed, not by the Church, but by state prosecutors. Multiple victims and parents state the church knew about the abuse but took no action despite sending the priest in 1995 for therapy for abuse claims.

    “After the trial, it was reported that the mother of two alleged victims went in person to the chancery in 2000 and told an official of the diocese that Mercure had abused her sons in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The diocese, which had formerly stated that the first complaint was received in 2008, confirmed that they had received a complaint in 2000.”

    What saves many of priests from prison is the typical 5 year statute of limitations for child rape charges. Luckily in this case, Massachusetts has changed their law due to the volume of priest abuse cases to remove the limitations. You should not get a free pass to abuse children based on a technicality.

    Many claims will stay hidden because victims don’t want to come forward. In the above case, the priest threatened the victims about telling about the rapes. And, leaders who knew what happened have a vested economic and personal interest in keeping things hidden.

    Story: “Ex-priest off to prison with a grin”

  3. Eugene, thank you for the link to the NYT article. Though many in the Catholic blogosphere love to blast away at the Times (e.g., Fr. Z calls it’s “hell’s bible”), an article like that is an essential read.

    “Church officials say they [are] looking into the reasons for the discrepancy…” with regard to the Philadelphia archdiocese appearing, in the report, to be in full compliance. Sheesh. What exactly was that we all heard going down the drain? Oh. The credibility of the entire reporting system. Is that all?

  4. 7 allegations are 7 too many. Hope there will be at time when there will not be any more allegations–because there will be NO REASON for them—-the priests will be behaving themselves.

  5. Wow, I went back and actually read the report. I don’t know where the the number ‘seven’ minor victims came from, but the report states:

    “In the 2010 audit period dioceses/eparchies provided
    outreach for the first time to 478 people who came
    forward during the 2010 audit year seeking assistance.

    During the 2010 audit period, thirty allegations
    were made by current minors. Of these, eight were
    considered credible by law enforcement, seven
    were determined to be false, twelve were deter-
    mined to be boundary violations, and three are still
    under investigation.”

    In 2010: “Six hundred fifty-three victims/survivors whose
    abuse happened in the past came forward for the first
    time during the 2010 audit period to share their sto-
    ries with the Church. Allegations were made against
    574 priests and eight deacons. Of the accused cler-
    ics, 253 are deceased, 67 had already been laicized,
    172 had been already removed from ministry, and
    275 had been named in previous audits.”

    “As of April 11, 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has counted 5,948 clerics “not implausibly” and “credibly” accused in 1950-2010 of sexually abusing minors. The USCCB total omits allegations made in 2003.”

    “Dioceses and eparchies that responded to the survey
    and reported costs related to allegations paid out
    $123,703,433 in 2010. ”

    The church is to be applauded for conducting this study and trying to end the culture of abuse.

    At the end of the report is this passage: “A cleric who lives
    in concubinage or gives permanent scandal by publicly
    sinning against chastity is to be punished with a suspen-
    sion, to which, other penalties can be gradually added
    up to deposition, if he persists in the offense”.

  6. Eugene and George — are the things you are talking about cases in which the alleged abuse occurred in 2010? If not, why bring them up as if they somehow contradicted the report?

    Pagansister — you are right that there should be zero, just as there should be zero of any other form of sin or crime committed by anybody. To expect that it will ever happen on a sustained basis is utopian, since we are dealing with human beings. But I think that the number represents such a vast decline from years before 2002 that we have to consider that the Catholic Church has had great success in ending abuse of minors.

  7. And when will we see someone sit down and compute the number of public school teachers who were involved in credible abuse cases in 2010. Would it be lower than 7?????
    And how many would have fallen under the category of what the NY Times says the public schools calls quietly getting rid of abusive teachers:: “Moving the trash along???”
    The trouble is it is against the law to sue public entities in most states. So no deep pockets can be sued there. So there is no monetary incentive to go after public school teachers. So few do so. And thus, if news coverage is any indication, noone cares one whit what is happening in the public schools–except for a few sensational cases (that the media treats as in-depth coverage).

  8. Naturgesestz,

    The situation in Philadelphia shows that the process for investigating these reports, at least in that diocese, is so unreliable that the Archbishop cannot defend the results. Too many were exonerated too quickly without thorough investigation. As a result, once there was outside scrutiny, many priests had to be placed on administrative leave. Some of them may be innocent, but the process could not be counted on to generate accurate decisions. That same inadequate process apparently continued until the recent grand jury report.

  9. “And when will we see someone sit down and compute the number of public school teachers who were involved in credible abuse cases in 2010. ”

    That is a classic straw man argument.

    As Catholic’s we are worried about the billions of dollars in abuse case settlements that is forcing parishes to close schools, churches, laying off staff, and removing religious education for our youth. Not to mention, the scandal has made being a priest an occupation that is viewed with derision by the public and unfairly tarnished the good priests with undue scandal.

    To turn around and say, the ‘other guy does it to’ misses the point. We have to fight for the future of our Church from the cultural rot within.

  10. “The trouble is it is against the law to sue public entities in most states.”

    No it’s not. Public entites can be sued and routinely are.

    Claiming public teachers abuse kids is the same as the speeding corvette driver complaining to the traffic cop that “other people are speeding, go catch them.”

    Here’s the difference in treatment between teachers and priests who abuse children:

    Teachers don’t have Bishops to protect them.

  11. For a more balanced view of all this, read the following articles, please:

    Also, keep in mind the first clergy in the Church, the Apostles. All hand-picked by Jesus Christ Himself. Yet, one was Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. Another, Peter, whom He picked to lead His Church on earth, denied Him three times. The rest, except for John, deserted Him like cowards during His passion.

    Does anyone believe that priests (and deacons) have some sort of special protection against temptation and sin? Or are they even more targeted by Satan and his minions?

    We are in a battle, for our immortal souls. Not against principalities and powers, but against the powers of darkness and evil. It is not a disgrace to get wounded in battle. That’s what we have Confession for. But it is a disgrace to desert. And Satan is a master tactician and strategist. One of the best tactics and strategies in battle is to try to kill off the officers. Strike the shepherd, scatter the sheep. So, Catholic clergy are even more at risk. They’re high-profile targets. And I would say some who fall do so because we don’t pray enough for them! We need to work as a unit, not as individuals. So, start praying and offering sacrifice for our clergy and ourselves! Fight Satan head on, with all we have!

  12. Ooops. Typo! Should have said, “Not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers…etc.”

  13. I love the Church, and I hope that the figures are truly low. But I can’t help thinking it was huge mistake to release such claims. Given the still too recent failure of numerous bishops to police the molesters, I don’t think there are many outside the Church who will find such claims credible, and even within, many will have doubts.

    What we need is performance, which will eventually be documented by non-Church sources. Only then will the Church begin to recover the public trust which earlier failures betrayed.

  14. I have 8 grandchildren in public school.
    Should I not be concerned that their welfare is being ignored????– that there are no programs set up to weed out pedophiles before they are hired to work around children in most school systems. Among the cases that sometimes pop up in the news are cases of convicted offenders being hired by school bus companies, school janitorial firms, etc..
    As far as lawsuits–there was one state that had a bill in to treat public schools like private schools for abuse lawsuit purposes–and it got voted down. Very fast as I recall.

  15. “I have 8 grandchildren in public school.
    Should I not be concerned that their welfare is being ignored????”

    You should be concerned. Why don’t you schedule a vist to your grandchidlren’s local school districts and express the cocnerns you have for your grandchildren’s safety?

    I’ll bet in the blind here. I’ll bet that you will find that your school districts have fairly detailed written programs and procedures to detect and prevent child sexual abuse. I’ll bet your school districts fingerprint employees and perform background checks on potential employees.

    More to the point, I’ll bet the school districts promptly report any incidents of sexual abuse to the police for criminal enforcement. Elected officials are fairly responsive to voters and do not want to even *appear* to be soft on sex abuse prevention measures. Most school districts set out their sex abuse prevention programs on line. You should see what yours say. You may be surprised.

  16. Well, I am a recently retired public high school teacher–and noone ever fingerprinted me. Noone ever demanded I fill in a CORY form as is now expected each year of Church volunteers and all parish personnel–including priests and deacons. And knowing my teacher’s union, I doubt they would go along with either of those things being done in school systems they represent. In fact, the joke making the rounds among some is that the teacher’s union is the pedophile’s best protection because they have gotten language in so many contracts that make it a nightmare for school administratiors to fire anyone short of conviction in court -which usually isn’t easy because families don’t want to be dragged through the courts. So, as the NY Times reports: They quietly move the trash along.
    My main point is that the media obsession with the sins of Church leadership is fine–even warranted. But when are they going to get around to the public schools where the real huge number of cases are today according to all experts I have read. And even the NY Times agrees is a problem.

  17. As a teacher in public schools in many cities/ states, I had to have fingerprints taken before I could teach. The one Catholic school I finished my career in also required fingerprinting. That is one way of assuring that the people being hired don’t have a record of messing with kids, Deacon John. I would be surprised if the city (s) where your grandchildren are attending school doesn’t require that of it’s employees.

  18. When I was a child, we whispered, we joked, but you didn’t mention abuse to your parents…it made them embarassed, angry, thinking you “misunderstood”, so many things.

    Today, although I think all the sex talk and teaching in schools is in access, I doubt a scout leader, teacher or minister would get as far with a child unless he threatened a younger one. Parents aren’t as trusting either, unless they are extremely pious and prudish, their children understand “bad touching” and no one is exempt from it.

    I think for what it’s worth, that is better. I believe many unknown cases existed in and out of the church, besides the ones in the paper, it was a different world.

  19. Pagan sister–I am one town over from where 3 of my grandchildren go to public school–and I have only been out of public school teaching a very short time–and I was never Coryed and never fingerprinted. I can understand the media not being interested in school systems that are doing the right thing–but why aren’t they looking for the school systems who are doing little or nothing BEFORE something horrendous happens.
    Talk about timing–as I sit here the TV News my wife is watching just reported on the abuse of a school kid in a public school. The abuser had a record. NOW the school system says they are vetting all their employees to see if any others have abuse records.
    The Church is working 10 times harder than many public school systems and many states to protect children, but it never seems to be enough in media coverage. In the meanwhile where is the survey in the media of public school systems which do NOT Cory their employees–like the school system I was in doesn’t???? Which do not fingerprint their employees–like the school system I was in doesn’t????

  20. Deacon John, I’ve lived in Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Penn., and RI (where I live now). Background was checked with fingerprints. Guess they were ahead of their time?

    Can’t, of course, answer your questions about the lack of checking out possible employees in public (and maybe some private ones). Shame, actually and also to bad that such is required. IMO, all organizations that have work with children involved should totally check out possible employees.

    The Church is now checking, because of the scandal, perhaps. However I was employed in the RC school before the Church scandal broke.

  21. I’m surprised at the people who don’t see the difference in moral authority and subsequest moral outrage at priest abusers and their protectors over those in the secular world. People really hate hypocrisy. Make no mistake that the Church sets clergy in moral authority over those in the pew and I’m fine with that. But with greater authority comes greater responsibility.

    The Church is suffering greater outrage because of that, and deservedly so. People even in the secular world used to look up to priests precisely because they allowed them that moral authority. That’s why the backlash has been so bad.

    I wonder if it could be possible that another, even worse scandal is brewing if it is shown that nothing has really changed with respect to internal archdiocese investigations despite all the hoopla over new policies. That only the number of abusers have decreased as parishioners have become less willing to trust priests with unsupervised access to their children.

  22. To the best of my knowledge, after a certain length of time, they are destroyed, naturgesetz. The last police dept. (my local one who took my prints—way back in 1993) told me after checking the data bases (1993 style) the prints are no longer kept. Obviously if there is a problem found, the hiring school is notified.

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