Church Panel's Chairwoman Says Abuse Report Ready Soon

By Lucio Guerrero
Chicago Sun-Times [Chicago IL]
December 8, 2003

Even though they have been stonewalled by some and "diplomatically dismissed" by a few officials in Rome, the chairwoman of the church's National Review Board expects to have a report released to the public in February that will detail the prevalence of child abuse in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.

Illinois Appeals Court Judge Anne Burke, interim chairwoman of the panel, told a group of parish members Sunday at Saints Faith Hope & Charity Catholic Church in Winnetka that after 18 months of work, they have investigated all 194 archdiocese in the nation.

Although Burke did not give any details about the substance of the report that will be released, she did say she was surprised by how prevalent the problem seems to be.

"I didn't know before getting involved in this the scope of the problem and how far back the hierarchy knew," Burke said.

The National Review Board -- a group of 12 lay members appointed by the president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops -- is expected to release a thorough statistical report of the sexual abuse scandal to the public Feb. 27.

The study will count the abuse cases since 1950 and calculate related costs for legal settlements with victims, therapy for victims and offenders and attorneys' fees.

The panel, which is meeting in Chicago today, is helping oversee several studies meant to find the extent of abuse in the church and the roots of the crisis that erupted in January 2002.

A report on the causes of the scandal is scheduled to be released along with the statistical survey, which is being conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Earlier this year, the Archdiocese of Chicago released its own report showing that since January 1993, 55 credible allegations of the sexual abuse of a minor have been leveled against 36 priests of the archdiocese.

The report goes on to show the Chicago Archdiocese has spent $16.8 million in the last 10 years to resolve those cases -- some dating back 40 years -- including $7.9 million in settlements with victims.

Most of the $16.8 million was funded by the sale of undeveloped real estate owned by the archdiocese.

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