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Abuse scandal’s total cost: $2.49 billion since 2004

April 11, 2012

The clerical abuse scandal cost American dioceses $108,679,706 in 2011, according to a report released on April 10 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Only 57% of those funds were allotted to settlements ($50.4 million) and therapy for abuse victims ($6.1 million); the rest was spent on attorneys’ fees ($36.7 million), support for offenders ($9.9 million), and other costs ($5.6 million), according to the 2011 “Report on the Implementation of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.”

The clerical abuse scandal cost religious institutes an additional $35,372,010 in 2011. These expenses brought the total cost of the clerical abuse scandal to American dioceses and religious institutes between 2004 and 2011 to $2,488,405,755: $2,129,982,621 for dioceses and eparchies, and $358,428,134 for religious institutes.

During 2011, 21 minors alleged they were abused by a priest or deacon. The report found that seven allegations “were considered credible by law enforcement; three were determined to be false, five were determined to be boundary violations, and three are still under investigation.”

During 2011, 683 adults also alleged that they had been abused by a priest or deacon in the past. “Allegations were made against 551 priests and seven deacons,” the report stated. “Of the accused clerics, 253 are deceased, 58 had already been laicized, 184 have been removed from ministry, and 281 had been named in previous audits.”

Overall, 82% of those of alleged abuse were male, though 11 of the current minors who alleged abuse were female. 68% of allegations “occurred or began between 1960 and 1984.”

Among the other findings of the report:

  • “dioceses/eparchies provided outreach for the first time to 453 people who came forward during the 2011 adult year seeking assistance with healing and/or reconciliation. An additional 1,750 people who had come forth in years past continued to be served by outreach by dioceses/eparchies”
  • “half of the victims (50 percent) were between the ages of ten and fourteen when the alleged abuse began. An equal proportion of the victims (16 percent each) were between the ages of fifteen and seventeen or under age ten. The age could not be determined for almost one-fifth of victims (19 percent).”
  • “the most common time period for allegations reported in 2011 was 1975-1979”
  • only 1% of the alleged abusers were permanent deacons; one of the 21 new abuse allegations involved an international priest
  • the percentage of unsubstantiated or false allegations against diocesan priests and deacons has varied between 11% and 17% in each of the last six years

The authors of the report criticized the Diocese of Baker, the Diocese of Lincoln, and five Eastern Catholic eparchies for not taking part in an audit that measures compliance with the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas charter. The eparchies are the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle for Chaldeans, the Eparchy of Newton for Melkites, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in New York for Armenian Catholics, the Eparchy of St. Josaphat of Parma for Ukrainians, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, and the Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark for Syriacs.


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  • Posted by: koinonia - Apr. 11, 2012 8:18 PM ET USA

    There is something to be said for what these numbers say. It isn't good. Unfortunately, history will be doing the talking when we are all dead and gone. The dust will have settled; things will be brought into focus. We will be the generation privileged to "own" the problem. But it will be more difficult for those who come after us. This is no Black Legend.

  • Posted by: shrink - Apr. 11, 2012 8:11 AM ET USA

    That's funny! We know which dioceses by name refused to participate in this audit, but we still don't know how much money was payed out by each diocese, by name. I think our old friend Diogenes once referred to this kind of reporting as a "graywash."