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Number of Priests Accused of Sexually Abusing Children
As Reported by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
with Numbers of Persons Alleging Abuse

Compiled by BishopAccountability.org
From reports commissioned by the USCCB
Updated May 9, 2013

As of May 9, 2013, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has counted 6,275 clerics "not implausibly" and "credibly" accused in 1950-2012 of sexually abusing minors. The USCCB total omits allegations made in 2003.

As of May 9, 2013, the USCCB has counted 16,795 individuals who have alleged that they were abused as minors by priests. The USCCB total omits persons who made allegations in 2003.

In the table below, we provide year-by-year the USCCB's data – on accused priests and persons making allegations – which add up to 6,275 accused priests and 16,795 survivors. The numbers in the table are color-coded for easier reference – red for credibly accused priests and purple for victims. We also provide links to all the USCCB source documents.

The USCCB hired the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to evaluate data submitted by member bishops regarding the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, bishops, deacons, and seminarians. In its 2004 report, the John Jay College found that, according to survey forms completed by the bishops, they had received in 1950-2002 "not implausible" allegations of sexual abuse of minors committed by 4,392 priests, including 12 bishops.

In 2004, the USCCB commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to begin collecting annual data on allegations and settlements, and starting in Spring 2005, CARA has published a report each year. (See Bendyna's 2/15/05 letter to Skylstad describing the commission, in the 2005 Report, PDF p. 12.) Among other data, that report counts the number of diocesan and religious order priests "credibly" accused of abuse during the previous calendar year, and states how many of those had been accused in prior years or are being accused for the first time. These data were obtained using a survey that was available to the bishops and superiors of religious orders online. See, for example, the 2009 diocesan and religious order surveys (with aggregate U.S. numbers filled in), and see below for the Manchester diocese's summaries of its responses to the surveys.

The latest CARA report – the CARA report on 2012 allegations – was released on May 9, 2013, along with an audit of the implementation of the Charter. We have cached a copy of that report for safekeeping.

Below we have collated the data on accused priests as provided in the John Jay report, and supplemented that data with CARA's count of the number of priests newly accused each year. Note that:

  • The USCCB does not maintain a running total of the number of priests who have been accused. The table below supplies that missing total.

  • The USCCB has never released a count of the number of priests accused in 2003, which was a year when many victims came forward.

  • The USCCB and CARA counts include data from most U.S. dioceses, but a smaller percentage of the religious orders have cooperated with the process. As a result, accused religious order priests are under-represented. This can be seen by comparing the percentage of accused religious order priests with the percentage of total religious order priests at the bottom of the table. Religious order priests account for only 20% of the accused, but religious order priests constitute 32% of the total priests in the United States.

  • The USCCB has not released the names of the 6,275 clerics who have been accused.

  • A small number of U.S. bishops have released lists of accused priests; see our collection of links to those bishops' lists.

  • BishopAccountability.org maintains a Database of Accused Priests and other accused clergy. As of January 16, 2013, there were 3,818 names in that database, including 3,397 priests, 23 bishops, 52 deacons, and 20 seminarians, for a total of 3,492 accused clerics in those categories. But the USCCB counts a combined total of 6,275 accused priests, bishops, deacons, and seminarians. This means that there are at least 2,783 accused clerics whose names are still secret. In other words, of the 6,275 total, at least 44 percent of the names are being kept secret by bishops and superiors of religious orders.

  • The 6,275 priests who are now counted by the U.S. bishops as accused comprise 5.7% of the 109,694 priests in ministry 1950-2002. Yet as recently as November 2002, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, stated in an interview: "In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type." In the years since the John Jay College established the 109,694 count, the Catholic church in the United States has ordained 4,885 men. If those newly ordained are included in the total, then 114,579 priests have worked in the United States 1950 to the present. Using that figure as the denominator, and the USCCB's current count of 6,275 credibly accused priests as the nominator, then 5.5% of accused priests have been accused.

  • In U.S. dioceses where there is something like full disclosure, the percentage of accused priests is approaching 10 percent (see examples). If 10 percent of priests nationwide are ultimately accused of abuse, the total would rise to 10,969 accused priests.

Years Total Newly
Accused in Each Time Period
Newly Accused Diocesan Clerics in Each Time Period Newly Accused Religious Order Clerics in Each Time Period Newly Accused Other Clerics in Each Time Period Source Notes
1950-2002

4,392

10,667
survivors

3,282 929

181

10,667
survivors

John Jay Report for the USCCB, pp. 28 and 42. See also a PDF of the John Jay report. The "diocesan" category includes diocesan priests, extern priests, eparchian priests, deacons, bishops, seminarians, and other. In addition to 3,282 diocesan priests and 929 religious order priests, the John Jay report counted 181 priests who were accused of abuse but whose "clerical status" (diocesan or religious) was not provided in the source surveys. The John Jay researchers included priests "not implausibly" accused.
2003 NA NA NA NA   The USCCB never released data for 2003.
2004

387

1,083
survivors of new and previously accused priests

311

889
survivors of new and previously accused priests

76

194
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2004 (PDF pp. 12, 18-21, 34-47, no surveys provided) The CARA report states (p. 8): "Of the 134 [religious order] priests and deacons against whom allegations
were made ... [l]ess than half, 43 percent ... had been the
subject of previous allegations prior to January 1, 2004." I.e., 57% of the 134 were newly accused, or 76.38. We have rounded down to 76.
2005

203

777
survivors of new and previously accused priests

158

690
survivors of new and previously accused priests

45

87
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2005 (PDF pp. 37-57, 57-60; i.e., Chapters 5 and 6, Appendices B and C [blank surveys]) The CARA report states (p. 40): "Of the 69 religious priests ... [j]ust over a third, 35 percent ... had already been the subject of previous allegations in prior years." I.e., 65% of the 69 were newly accused, or 44.85. We have rounded up to 45.
2006

189

710
survivors of new and previously accused priests

168

632
survivors of new and previously accused priests

21

78
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2006 (PDF pp. 18-40, 46-49; i.e., Chapter 3; Appendices I and II [surveys populated with totals; see line items 31 and 38 in each survey for the relevant counts])  
2007

204

689
survivors of new and previously accused priests

158

598
survivors of new and previously accused priests

46

91
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2007 (PDF pp. 34-56, 68-71; i.e., Chapter 4 and Appendices B and C [surveys populated with totals; see line items 31 and 38 in each survey for the relevant counts])  
2008

225

796
survivors of new and previously accused priests

173

620
survivors of new and previously accused priests

52

176
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2008 (PDF pp. 35-57, 70-73; i.e., Chapter 4 and Appendices B and C [surveys populated with totals; see line items 31 and 38 in each survey for the relevant counts])  
2009

169

513
survivors of new and previously accused priests

130

398
survivors of new and previously accused priests

39

115
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2009 (Chapter 4, Appendices B and C [surveys populated with totals; see line items 31 and 38 in each survey for the relevant counts])  
2010

179

501
survivors of new and previously accused priests

144

426
survivors of new and previously accused priests

35

75
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2010 (PDF pp. 30-52, 65-68, i.e., Appendices B and C [surveys populated with totals; see line items 31 and 38 in each survey for the relevant counts])  
2011

167

588
survivors of new and previously accused priests

147

489
survivors of new and previously accused priests

20

99
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2011 (PDF pp. 39-61, 73-76, i.e., Appendices B and C [surveys populated with totals; see line items 31 and 38 in each survey for the relevant counts])  
2012

160

471
survivors of new and previously accused priests

131

397
survivors of new and previously accused priests

29

74
survivors of new and previously accused priests

  CARA Report on 2012 (PDF pp. 34-56, 65-68, i.e., Appendices B and C [surveys populated with totals; see line items 32 and 39 in each survey for the relevant counts])  
Grand Total of Accused Priests 6,275 4,802 1,282 181    
Ratio   77% 20% 3%    
 
Total U.S. Priests in 2012 39,718 27,125 12,593     Data from Official Catholic Directory (New York: Kenedy & Sons, 2012)
Ratio   68% 32%      

 

 

Total Survivors 16,795 5,139 989 10,667    

 

Diocese of Manchester: Summaries of the Completed CARA Surveys

See also the Manchester diocese's reports during the NH attorney general's audit of the diocese, and the attorney general's repeated insistence that the diocese fully comply with the terms of the audit.

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

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