Archdiocese Cites 142 Abuse Cases

Chicago Tribune [Chicago IL]
February 27, 2004

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has spent nearly $39 million in the last 53 years dealing with sexual abuse by clergy, church officials disclosed today.

Officials said they found reasonable cause to suspect sexual misconduct with minors had occurred in 142 cases involving 55 archdiocesan priests from 1950 to 2003, the period covered by the study released today.

Most of the incidents occurred between 1970 and 1985, officials said.

None of the accused priests currently are in ministry, Cardinal Francis George said at a news conference in Chicago to release the findings. The report also has been posted on the Archdiocesan Web site.

Of the priests accused of abuse, 13 are deceased, 20 withdrew from ministry and 22 resigned from the priesthood, officials said. They made up about 2 percent of the 2,513 men who served in the local priesthood since 1950.

"There is no priest in public ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago against whom there is credible reason to believe that the sexual abuse of minor marked his past," George said. "I believe what I can say for Chicago is true for other dioceses around the country."

The dollar cost of clerical abuse to the Archdiocese has totaled $38.7 million, officials said. About $26.9 million went toward settlements and assistance to victims; $5.9 million to legal fees and $5.9 million to treating and monitoring accused priests.

"The money comes from insurance and, since we are a large Archdiocese and have been self-insured, about half of it or a little more ? has come from the sale of undeveloped property," George said. Some of the land holdings in Cook and Lake Counties go back 150 years, George said.

Today's report consolidated two studies of clerical abuse in the Archdiocese, updating them to the end of 2003, George said.

"In talking to victims, the single most important request they make is to see to it that no one else suffers what they have suffered," George said. To do that, he added, "we have to look continuously at causes."

The release of local numbers coincided with today's release of a national study of clerical abuse by the National Review Board, a lay watchdog panel formed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

That study, based on a tally of abuse claims for the review board by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, found there have been 10,667 abuse claims over those 52 years, mostly against young boys.

About 4 percent of all American clerics who served during the years studied -- 4,392 of the 109,694 priests and others under vows -- were accused of abuse. Roughly 6,700 claims were substantiated, researchers said.


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