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Abuse scandal’s total cost: $2.34 billion since 2004

Catholic World News - April 12, 2011

The clerical abuse scandal cost American dioceses $123,703,433 in 2010, according to an annual report released on April 11 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Only 62% of those funds were allotted to settlements ($70.4 million) and therapy for abuse victims ($6.4 million); the rest was spent on attorneys’ fees ($33.9 million), support for offenders ($9.9 million), and other costs ($3.1 million).

The clerical abuse scandal cost religious institutes an additional $25,920,747 in 2010. These expenses brought the total cost of the clerical abuse scandal to American dioceses and religious institutes between 2004 and 2009 to $2,344,354,039: $2,021,302,915 for dioceses and eparchies, and $323,051,124 for religious institutes.

In addition, American dioceses spent nearly $21 million in 2010 on safe environment programs and background checks.

The report found that 428 new credible allegations of child sexual abuse were lodged against 345 diocesan priests or deacons in 2010. Only seven of the 428 allegations involved those who are currently minors; the other allegations were made by adults who allege they were abused as minors. In all, 74 abuse allegations since 2004 have involved those who were minors in the year of the allegation.

Of the 428 new credible allegations, 82% involved male victims, and only 20% of victims were under the age of ten. Characterizations of the abuse scandal as predominantly one of pedophilia rather than homosexual activity are thus inaccurate.

“Two-thirds of new allegations (66 percent) occurred or began between 1960 and 1984,” the report continued. “The most common time period for allegations reported in 2010 was 1970-1974. This is approximately the same time pattern that has been reported in previous years, with most allegations reportedly occurring or beginning between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s.”

“Of the 428 new credible allegations reported in 2010, 71 new allegations (17 percent) were unsubstantiated or determined to be false by December 31, 2010,” the report added. “In addition, 25 allegations received prior to 2010 were unsubstantiated or determined to be false during 2010.”

Thirty of the allegations involved abuse that allegedly took place in 2010, rather than in a previous year. Following investigation by law enforcement, eight allegations (27%) were determined to be credible, seven (23%) were determined to be false, three (10%) remained under investigation, and 12 (40%) were determined to be boundary violations, not sexual abuse. Examples of boundary violations cited in the report included “kissing girls on top of the head, inappropriate hugging, and an adult patting a minor on the knee. In all cases civil authorities were called, and an investigation was conducted; also in all cases the civil authorities concluded there was no sexual misconduct.” Twelve (40%) of these 30 allegations involved foreign priests.

The authors of the report criticized the Diocese of Lincoln, the Diocese of Baker, and five Eastern Catholic eparchies for not taking part in an audit that measures compliance with the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas charter.

Only 72% of religious communities responded to a request for information by Conference of Major Superiors of Men. According to these surveys, male religious communities received “77 new credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor committed by a priest or deacon of the community, all of which are alleged to have occurred prior to 2010.” 77% of the victims were male; 19% were under age ten. 10% of allegations against religious were determined to be false.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: opraem - Apr. 12, 2011 8:15 PM ET USA

    these are the same people that gave the philadelphia archdiocese a clean bill of health for the past five years. so believe them if you dare.

  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Apr. 12, 2011 6:40 PM ET USA

    2.34 billion.....we could have fed the world as our Lord intended our resources to be used........

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 12, 2011 3:42 PM ET USA

    I would rather entrust my children to Bishop Bruskewitz or Bishop Vasa to the whole blessed USCCB.

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