What percent of priests were accused?

1. The John Jay percentage

The John Jay report calculated accused priest percentages of 4.0 and 4.3, using two different totals of active priests.

a. Using totals of active priests 1950-2002 provided by dioceses and religious communities:
Total accused priests 1950-2002: 4,392
Total active priests 1950-2002: 109,694
Percent accused: 4.0%

b. Using number of active priests 1960-2002 provided by CARA:
Total accused priests 1960-2002: 4,127
Total active priests 1960-2002, according to CARA: 94,607
Percent accused: 4.3%

[Source, JJ report, Executive Summary, “Overview of Prevalence and Reporting,” paragraphs 1-5]

2. Updated John Jay percentage has adjusted the John Jay percentage to include additional priests identified in allegations reported in CARA’s 2004-2007 annual updates (see reports for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008):

Updated total of accused priests 1950-2007 (excluding 2003): 5,375

Total newly accused diocesan priests in 2008: 173 (= 423–250, see 2008 report, PDF pp. 36 and 40)
Total newly accused religious order priests in 2008: 52 (= 55% of 95, see 2008 report, PDF pp. 50 and 46)

Total newly accused diocesan priests in 2009: 129 (= 45% of 286, see 2009 report, chap. 4, PDF p. 6)
Total newly accused religious order priests in 2009: 39 (= 65% of 60, see 2009 report, chap. 4, PDF pp. 12 and 16)

Total accused priests through 2009: 5,768 (= 5,375+173+52+129+39)
Total active priests 1950-2002: 109,694
Updated percent accused: 5.3%

(Note: We use the larger of the two denominators used by John Jay. Some might argue that the denominator should increase by the total priests newly ordained in 2004-2009. But we can reasonably infer that nearly all of the accused priests newly identified in 2004-2009 were in the priesthood as of 2002. Therefore, it’s more accurate to use the original JJ denominator.)

3. Richard Sipe’s estimates

Richard Sipe states: "In my opinion the real number of Catholic priests who have sexually abused a minor at least once during the past 50 years will prove to be 9 percent when all studies are completed." See Public Disclosure, Cause No. 141-198356-03, In the District Court of Tarrant County, Texas (heading "As a direct result," bullets 2 and 3).

Sipe has also posited 6% and cites many other estimates in this 2005 report in the matter of Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston v. Lumbermen's Mutual Casualty Company, Civil Action No. 04-1046 (paragraphs 44-56).

4. Dioceses with greater exposure

In dioceses compelled to release internal abuse files to law enforcement or the public, the percentages of accused priests are markedly higher.

a. Diocese of Providence RI: More than 10%

Based on an accused priest total provided by the diocese in a 2006 court document, we can infer that more than 10% of Providence priests have been named in allegations of child sexual abuse

Total accused priests, 1971-2006: 125
Source: Thomas J. Tobin's Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Christopher Young v. Louis E. Gelineau, January 9, 2007

Total active diocesan and religious order priests 1950-2002: More than 1200
Source: Diocese Releases Abuse Statistics Since 1950, February 22, 2004.

Percent accused (without adjusting for non-parallel time periods, which would increase the percentage): At least 10%

b. Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 7.7%

Total accused priests, 1967-2005: 169
Source: Complaints Involved 169 Priests, by Craig R. McCoy, Philadelphia Inquirer, September 25, 2005.

Active priests, 1950-2003: 2,204
Source: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia dioceses release priest abuse statistics, Associated Press, February 26, 2004.

Percent accused (without adjusting for non-parallel time periods, which would increase the percentage): 7.7%

c. Diocese of Manchester NH: 8.9%

Total accused diocesan priests: 74
Source: Database of Accused Priests, as updated to include priests newly accused about whom audit documents were released by the New Hampshire Attorney General in March 2009.

Active diocesan priests, 1943-2002: 831
Source:'s collection of materials on the Manchester John Jay report.

Percent accused priests: 8.9%

d. Diocese of Covington KY: 9.6%

Total accused priests: 35
Active priests: 364
Percent accused: 9.6%
Source:'s collection of materials on Covington's John Jay report.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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