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Abuse scandal’s total cost: $2.9 billion since 2004

April 21, 2015

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The clerical abuse scandal cost American dioceses and religious orders $119,079,647 between mid-2013 and mid-2014, according to a report released on April 17 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Only 59% of those funds were allotted to settlements ($62.9 million) and therapy for abuse victims ($7.7 million). The remaining funds were spent on attorneys’ fees ($28.8 million), support for offenders ($15.4 million), and other costs ($4.2 million), according to the 2014 “Report on the Implementation of the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People.”

These expenses brought the total cost of the clerical abuse scandal to American dioceses and religious institutes between 2004 and mid-2014 to $2,895,629,230, according to the data in the current report and previous reports. That figure does not include expenses incurred previously in lawsuits that were settled quietly prior to the adoption of the Dallas Charter.

The report added that dioceses, eparchies, and religious orders spent an additional $31,667,740 for child protection efforts in 2013-14.

The report stated:

During the 2014 audit year (July 1, 2013–June 30, 2014), 620 survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy came forward to make 657 allegations for the first time: 130 cases were substantiated; 62 were unsubstantiated; 243 were still under investigation; 210 were unable to be proven or disproven; and 12 were “other.”

Of all the allegations, 37 were made by current minors; the remaining 620 were made by adults who had been abused in the past. Of the 37 allegations made by current minors, all were reported to civil authorities, who found six substantiated; eleven unsubstantiated; twelve unable to be proven; and the investigation still ongoing in eight cases.

65% of accused diocesan clergy “had already been identified in prior allegations,” and 75% “were deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized, or missing.”

75% of those who alleged abuse by diocesan clergy and 87% of those who alleged abuse by religious-order clergy were male, and abuse typically took place between the ages of 10 and 14. Most of the allegations involved incidents that took place between 1960 and 1989, particularly the 1970s.

The authors of the report criticized 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 Chaldean Eparchy of Saint Peter the Apostle of San Diego, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg in New York for Armenian Catholics, the Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark for Syrians, the Eparchy of St. Maron of Brooklyn, and the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford.

StoneBridge Business Partners, which conducted the audit, noted that “most dioceses and all eparchies opted not to have StoneBridge conduct parish audits. Many dioceses reported that they now perform their own parish audits.”

“Parishes and schools represent the front lines in any diocese’s or eparchy’s Charter compliance efforts,” the report added. “If a diocese or eparchy does not conduct some form of audit of its parishes and schools-- whether by diocesan/eparchial representative or external auditor such as StoneBridge-- the bishop or eparch cannot be sure that Charter-related policies and procedures are clearly communicated and effectively carried out.”


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: JimK01 - Apr. 22, 2015 11:32 PM ET USA

    Others in the "public trust" such as police officers, firefighters, teachers, etc who abused children have lost their jobs, pensions and/or gone to jail. Apparently priests and bishops are treated much differently. Why? When they abused the children entrusted to their care they forfitted any "special status" that their priesthood conferred. These men should have been laicized and imprisoned. Or better yet, a millstone should have been tied around their necks and then tossed them into the sea.

  • Posted by: claire5327 - Apr. 21, 2015 9:00 PM ET USA

    Sin is debt; in debt, debt to God's Creation! Sin rubs away the Good of what God has made and changed it or them into Ungodliness, thus, SIN is Debt! As w Church we committed The Sin Of Omission for too long, thus, the debt became HUGE! Imaging all that money were spent on doing GOOD and Paying the debt of having DONE Evil? The Mystical Body is Sinless, Dazzling White; let us try to keep our souls as White as possible, be worthy Members, not Hypocrites! See how fast we can change things!

  • Posted by: shrink - Apr. 21, 2015 3:23 PM ET USA

    $2.9 bil. is a big number. Consider that 1/5 of the total amount ($600m) was from the collection plates of Los Angeles parishes. It kind of puts the Finn/Kansas City scenario in context, doesn't it. Of course, the USCCB report hides the layouts by diocese. Mahoney swishes his way around LA and Rome, driving nice cars and drinking good wine, voting for Popes, having shoveled out $600m of the laity's money to keep his hide out of jail, while Finn gets sent packing on one process charge.

  • Posted by: Jason C. - Apr. 21, 2015 10:55 AM ET USA

    2.9 billion dollars! Think of all the things we could have done with that; I mean, that would buy about ten L.A. cathedrals!