Action Alert!
Catholic World News

US: Abuse scandal’s total cost approaches $2.2 billion; most victims male

March 24, 2010

The clerical abuse scandal cost American dioceses $104,439,629 in 2009, according to an annual report released on March 23 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Only 59% of those funds were allotted to settlements ($55.0 million) and therapy for abuse victims ($6.5 million); the rest was spent on attorneys’ fees ($28.7 million), support for offenders ($10.9 million), and other costs ($3.3 million).

The clerical abuse scandal cost religious institutes an additional $15,648,367 in 2009. These expenses brought the total cost of the clerical abuse scandal to American dioceses and religious institutes between 2004 and 2009 to $2,194,729,859: $1,897,599,482 for dioceses and eparchies, and $297,130,377 for religious institutes.

In addition, American dioceses spent more than $21 million in 2009 on safe environment programs and background checks.

The report found that 398 new credible allegations of child sexual abuse were lodged against 286 diocesan priests or deacons in 2009. Only six of the 398 allegations involved those who are currently minors; the other allegations were made by adults who allege they were abused as minors. In all, 65 abuse allegations since 2004 have involved those who were minors in the year of the allegation.

Of the 398 new credible allegations, 83% involved male victims, and only 15% 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.

“For the majority of new allegations (71 percent), the abuse occurred or began between 1960 and 1984,” the report continued. “The most common time period for allegations reported in 2009 was 1975-1979. 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 398 new credible allegations reported in 2009, 48 new allegations (12 percent) were unsubstantiated or determined to be false by December 31, 2009,” the report added. “In addition, 23 allegations received prior to 2009 were unsubstantiated or determined to be false during 2009.”

As in the past, 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 report also found the Diocese of Baker to be non-compliant with the requirement that dioceses provide safe environment programs. “The bishop feels it’s inappropriate to provide any type of sex education to any pre-pubescent child,” the report notes, adding:

Healthy Family—Safe Children (HFSC) is the new diocesan training program for parents promulgated by the Bishop of Baker in March 2009. This program was written at the direction of the bishop in conjunction with the Catholic Medical Association. The bishop continues to feel strongly that it is the parents’ responsibility to provide safe environment training to their children and not the church’s responsibility. As a result, his diocese will train parents in the HFSC program and allow the parents to decide what will be taught to their children.

“[T]raining programs for children also need to be developed in accord with Catholic moral teaching, while equipping children with the skills to protect themselves from abuse,” the report added. “The controversy over whether safe environment training constitutes sex education or personal safety training further complicates the training of children. The Charter calls for safety training, not sex education.”

Only 73% of religious communities responded to a request for information by Conference of Major Superiors of Men. According to these surveys, male religious communities received “received 115 new credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor committed by a priest or deacon of the community.” 84% of the victims were male; only 9% were under age ten. 10% of allegations against religious were determined to be false.


For all current news, visit our News home page.

Further information:
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Mar. 24, 2010 6:38 PM ET USA

    Wow, 59% goes to the victims. That is atrocious. They spend our money about as efficiently as our government does. I laugh at the STAND training that all lay volunteers are required to take in order to volunteer around children. Nothing like punishing the innocent! This is just another example of a useless, costly program to cover their ***es.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Mar. 24, 2010 5:05 PM ET USA

    We don't have to worry about the diocese of Lincoln. If the rest of the bishops were (and had been) the kind of men Bruskewitz is, we wouldn't have the problem.

  • Posted by: Minnesota Mary - Mar. 24, 2010 2:48 PM ET USA

    Bravo Bishop Vasa! May God continue to give you courage and fortitude as you stand up to the sex ed foolishness that is being foisted on the faithful as a cover for the incompetence of the Church bureaucrats and Grand Poohbahs.