Bishop to Discuss Report on Abuse

By Trevis R. Badeaux
The Advertiser [Lafayette LA]
February 4, 2004

LAFAYETTE — How much did clergy sex abuse of minors in Acadiana cost the Lafayette Roman Catholic Diocese?

Bishop Michael Jarrell is expected to answer that question, and several others, during a 3 p.m. news conference today in the Fuselier Auditorium at Immaculata Center, 1408 Carmel Ave. The bishop will discuss statistics that “deal with charges of sexual abuse of minors by clergy or personnel,” according to a press release issued Tuesday.

Experts and victims’ advocates have estimated that therapy, treatment and attorneys’ fees have cost the diocese millions. Federal court documents unsealed in 1998 showed that the Lafayette Diocese and its insurers paid out more than $22 million in settlements and judgments for cases filed between 1983 and 1990.

The bishop’s report is expected to put the first official price tag on the scandal for the local diocese.

Monsignor Richard Greene, diocese spokesperson, declined requests Tuesday to discuss how high that figure might be.

“You’ll just have to wait for the bishop’s report,” Greene said.

Jarrell’s statistics come from what’s been referred to as the “John Jay study,” which is a compilation of incidents, offenders and victims involved in the scandal between 1950 and 2002.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 commissioned the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at City University in New York to conduct the study. The school is noted for its reputation in forensic science, criminology and human behavior education.

The nation’s 195 dioceses and religious orders participated in the study. The bishops’ conference is expected to conduct a national press conference later this month to release its official findings.

Figures are expected to include the number of victims, offenders, incidents of abuse and the cost of therapy, treatment and attorney fees. Researchers excluded the names of victims and offenders in the official report. Each were identified by an encrypted code number, according to a press release posted on the conference’s official Web site.

The U.S. Roman Catholic church has a reported 63.4 million members in 19,081 church parishes served by 44,487 ordained ministers. The Lafayette Diocese has an estimated 331,000 members in 121 church parishes served by 149 priests.

Reports of clergy sex abuse first hit the national spotlight in the 1980s when Gilbert Gauthe was convicted of molesting children at several Lafayette Diocese churches, where he served as pastor in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In December 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law, resigned his post as the head of the Boston Archdiocese. Law and other church leaders there, victims’ advocates allege, moved priests to other church parishes within the archdiocese when charges of sex abuse arose.


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