ARCHDIOCESE OF ANCHORAGE AK
Today, Friday, February 13, Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz, O.M.I., released
a statement providing statistics relating to sexual abuse in the Archdiocese.
A number of dioceses have already released their figures. A report on
the “Nature and Scope of the Sexual Abuse of Minors by Members of
the Catholic Clergy” will be made public on February 27, 2004 .
The researchers from John Jay College of Criminal Justice will present
the results of the study, followed by a report from the National Review
Board on the results of interviews that they have been conducting over
the past 15 months.
“Today we are posting on our web site a document which summarizes each situation and its disposition. As well, we have attempted to answer questions which have come to us. It has taken some time to review all the material so that we could give as accurate a presentation as possible.
“In particular, I was concerned that we do a careful review because the Commission found a case involving an individual for whom we did not have a personnel file. In light of that, I asked my staff to review our archives and all other pertinent files to see if there was anything we missed. We found no other indications of misconduct; however, we determined that since the founding of the Archdiocese in 1966, 301 priests have served here. At the time of the report we reported the number was 84.
“The documents on the web list seven individuals against whom allegations of abuse with youth were made. As our web postings of February 13, 2004 , Anchorage Archdiocese Clergy Sexual Abuse Statistics explains, only three met the John Jay Study’s criteria for reporting from this Archdiocese. All three were reported.
“We continue to deal with what has happened and put in place programs to deter its happening again. At the moment we are working to fully implement the Bishops’ Charter. Within this Archdiocese we have done much and the process is virtually complete.
“Today’s report on our web site is one further step in this process. I invite all Catholics and the wider community to visit our web site, www.archdioceseofanchorage.org., where it is posted.”
For more information contact, Sister Charlotte Davenport, csjp.., Chancellor,
A Statement by Archbishop Roger L. Schwietz regarding Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Anchorage - February 13, 2004
Sexual abuse of the young by clergy continues to be a matter of concern both within and outside the Catholic Church. On February 27 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will release a study commissioned from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Within the Archdiocese of Anchorage the Erwin Commission did a tremendous amount of work in reviewing our priest personnel files. This Commission also decided to look at the broader question of sexual misconduct. In doing so it identified sixteen individuals with some type of allegation against them. Seven of those sixteen allegations involved youth.
I have wanted to respond and give a fuller picture concerning these sixteen cases, as precisely as I could. In order to do so much more investigation and research was necessary.
Today we are posting on our web site a document which summarizes each situation and its disposition. As well we have attempted to answer questions which have come to us. It has taken some time to review all the material so that we could give as accurate a presentation as possible.
In particular I was concerned that we do a careful review because the Commission found a case involving an individual for whom we did not have a personnel file. In light of that I asked my staff to review our archives and all other pertinent files to see if there was anything we missed. We found no other indications of misconduct, however we found that since the founding of the Archdiocese 301 priests have served here. At the time of the report we reported the number was 84.
Of the sixteen situations, six involved behavior that took place prior to the individual’s coming to Alaska . In two of these cases the home jurisdiction of the individual did not know of the allegation until after they were on assignment in the Archdiocese. In one case we do not know if the individual’s superiors had prior knowledge of the incident. In two cases the superiors informed us of the individual histories. In one case the individual’s superior knew of the problem but did not inform us. Five of the six had an assignment in the Archdiocese. The sixth visited his family here but was never given an assignment or allowed to function. Of the sixteen, fifteen no longer have an assignment in the Archdiocese. The sixteenth works in Alaska during Advent and Lent each year, under close supervision.
The documents on the web list seven individuals against whom allegations of abuse with youth were made. As our web posting of February 13, 2004 Anchorage Archdiocese Clergy Sexual Abuse Statistics explains, only three meet the John Jay Study’s criteria for reporting from this Archdiocese. All three were reported.
We also struggled with the question of reporting the names of perpetrators. Of the sixteen cases under consideration some had inconclusive results and others proved to be baseless. More importantly, in some cases identification of the perpetrator would identify his victim(s). Accordingly we have used names of perpetrators in the report only when those names have otherwise been made public. The motivation in doing this is to protect victims from additional suffering. No cases of sexual abuse of minors involves clergy who are currently serving in the Archdiocese of Anchorage
We continue to deal with what has happened and put in place programs to deter its happening again. Within this Archdiocese we have done much yet more needs to be done. At the moment we are working to fully implement the Bishop’s Charter. This process is virtually complete.
Today’s report on our web site is one further step in this process. I invite all Catholics and the wider community to visit www.archdioceseofanchorage.org where it is posted.
+ Roger L. Schwietz, O.M.I.
Anchorage Archdiocese Clergy Sexual Abuse Statistics
In its review of priest personnel files the Erwin Commission identified the files of sixteen individuals who had been accused of some type of inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature. These sixteen include six individuals who served in the Archdiocese of Anchorage but the alleged behavior took place outside of Alaska prior to coming here. In two of these cases the home jurisdiction of the individual did not know of the allegation until after they were on assignment in the Archdiocese. In once case we do not know if the individual’s superiors knew of the incident prior to his coming to Alaska. In two cases the superiors informed us of the individuals’ history. In one case the authorities in the individual’s previous assignment knew of the problem but did not inform the Archdiocese of Anchorage. Five of the six had an assignment in the Archdiocese. The sixth visited his family here but was never given an assignment or allowed to function.
Of the sixteen who were identified fourteen were clergy who had served in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, one was a priest who visited family here, one was a religious brother (not a priest) who was stationed here. The purpose of listing these cases is to describe the nature of what was alleged, how the Archdiocese responded and the disposition of each case.
The name of the individual against whom allegations have been made is used only when that name has been otherwise publicly revealed. Some victims who have come forward have requested anonymity and continue to ask for that protection. To identify by name the individual who committed the abuse runs the serious risk of compromising the anonymity of victims.
A) Monsignor Francis Murphy. This case has been widely discussed in the press and the situation well known. Murphy has been retired since 1996 and has been restricted from functioning as a priest.
B) Fr. Tim Crowley. This case has been widely reported and the situation is well known. Since August of 2002 Crowley has not functioned as a priest and effective as of the end of January, 2004, no longer receives funding support from the Archdiocese.
C) Bro. John McMuldren. The situation of Brother John McMuldren was reported in the December 5, 2003 issue of the Catholic Anchor. The allegations against him were extensively investigated at the time and found to be baseless.
D) This case involves a priest who came to the Anchorage Archdiocese and served here for some years. About 14 years ago the jurisdiction where he had formerly served received a complaint from two brothers that they had been abused by this priest. This complaint was received some time after he came to Anchorage . Authorities in his former jurisdiction had received no previous complaints. When the information was communicated to the Archdiocese of Anchorage the priest was confronted with the allegation and admitted to it. He was immediately removed from his parish and sent for evaluation which was followed by lengthy treatment. At the end of treatment it was clear the priest could not be returned to ministry and he has not had permission to function as a priest since. To the best of our knowledge this individual has never returned to Anchorage nor had a ministerial assignment of any kind.
E) Case E concerns a woman who approached Archdiocesan authorities with allegations of abuse by a priest who had died. The woman met with members of the Archdiocesan Review Board who found her believable and her allegations credible. The Archdiocese has provided and continues to pay for counseling and supportive services for her. It is possible that there were other victims though none have come forward.
F) In the mid nineteen-eighties a local priest became sexually involved with a 17 year old woman. In this particular case the priest himself came forward and reported his misconduct and asked for help. The priest was immediately removed from ministry and sent for evaluation and treatment. At the end of his treatment it was decided that he could not immediately return to ministry. He spent some time out of ministry while continuing to receive therapy. Eventually this priest was able to return to ministry in another jurisdiction. This Archdiocese fully informed the new jurisdiction of his history. He has worked in a structured setting in that diocese for many years with no further incident. At the time the priest came forward the Archdiocese attempted to make contact with the victim and the victim’s mother but they chose not to come forward.
G) In the late nineteen-eighties a woman wrote Archbishop Hurley a letter making an allegation of sexual abuse against a priest who had served in her parish when she was a child. This letter was forwarded to Archbishop Hurley through a third party. Archbishop Hurley wrote the woman and asked her permission to pursue the complaint against the priest. As well he made other attempts to contact the woman. No contact other than the initial letter was made. The priest continued to serve for a number of years in the Archdiocese and was subsequently recalled by his own jurisdiction where he received another assignment outside of Alaska .
H) In the early nineties the Archdiocese was approached by a priest from another jurisdiction who wished to work in the Archdiocese of Anchorage. With the support and recommendation of his superior the priest was given an assignment in the Archdiocese. Subsequently Archdiocesan authorities discovered this priest was involved in litigation concerning a child he had fathered. Although authorities in his previous jurisdiction were aware of the situation they did not inform the Archdiocese of the matter. Upon learning of this the individual was relieved of his assignment in the Archdiocese and returned home.
I) Archdiocesan authorities were approached by a woman in her early twenties who had become romantically involved with a priest in about 1986. Ultimately this woman bore a child. The priest admitted paternity and made a cash settlement with the woman. The priest no longer has an assignment in the Archdiocese and is retired.
J) This situation involved a priest who became involved with a woman in her twenties and occurred in the late nineteen-eighties. The priest involved made cash settlement with the woman and not currently in active ministry.
K) In the mid-nineties the Archdiocese was approached by a priest from another diocese who wished to have an assignment here. In the course of doing a back ground check on him, archdiocesan authorities discovered that he had been involved in sexual misconduct with an adult woman and was under a precept from his bishop to obtain counseling and assistance. In view of his history this individual was not given an assignment in the Archdiocese.
L) Several complaints were received concerning a priest who was physically inappropriate with woman (hugging and touching) as well as engaging in sexualized conversation. When confronted with these complaints the priest admitted to them. He was recalled by his jurisdiction. His superiors then sent him to treatment and counseling. Subsequently he was given another assignment in his home jurisdiction.
M) In the late nineteen-seventies a third party wrote accusing a priest of having an affair with a woman in his parish. Both the woman involved and the priest denied there was any involvement.
N) Archbishop Robert Sanchez. Archbishop Sanchez resigned as Archbishop of Santa Fe as a result of his involvement with women while he was Archbishop. He comes to the Archdiocese of Anchorage at times to assist with the Hispanic community. Permission is received from the Holy See prior to every visit to Anchorage .
O) Beno Oostermann. In 1979 and 1980 a priest from another diocese made several visits to Alaska in the process of deciding whether or not he might wish to seek an assignment here. During his stays he performed some priestly functions and assisted in various places on weekends. Ultimately he chose not to seek assignment in Alaska and returned to his home where, within several months, he left the ministry. In the mid-nineties allegations were made about this individual in his home jurisdiction, the Diocese of Spokane. This occurred well after he left Alaska and after he had left the priesthood. These allegations were the first his superiors knew about any incidents in their diocese.
P) A priest from another diocese came here for an assignment in the late nineteen-nineties. This individual had been involved with a woman in his previous assignment. Subsequent to his arrival this woman followed him to Alaska . It is not know whether the authorities in his home jurisdiction knew of this situation. When the matter was discovered he was relieved of his assignment and returned to his home jurisdiction and the Archdiocese of Anchorage informed his superiors of what had occurred. The ultimate disposition of this case is unknown.
Any other victims of any priestly abuse of minors are urged to come forward and report the abuse to the Alaska State Troopers or for assistance in making such a report:
Sr. Barbara Scanlon, CSJ, Victims Assistance Cord. 907-276-3455
S.T.A.R (Standing Together Against Rape) 800-478-8999 (Statewide)
Questions and Answers
Q. Why is this information being presented at this time?
A. When the Erwin commission published its report the Archdiocese took
Q. Why aren’t names of all the sixteen individuals being released?
A. This is a difficult question. As was indicated above in some cases authorities were not able to investigate particular situations. In other situations the individuals involved denied the allegations and/or they were found to be baseless. As well in some cases if the perpetrator were identified it would identify the victim to their community. These victims have requested anonymity and thus we have chosen to use names only when they are otherwise publicly known.
Q. I have never heard of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study about sex abuse in the Catholic Church. What is it?
A. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops have commissioned the John Jay College to do an extensive study of the phenomenon of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic Clergy. This study, which is scheduled to be released later this month, will examine a variety of issues concerning abuse of minors by clergy. Among other things it will include statistical information on the number of perpetrators, number of victims and the cost associated with what has happened. A further study, which will take more time, will investigate the causes of clergy sexual abuse of minors.
Q. Will the sixteen cases contained in the Erwin Commission report be included in the John Jay Study?
A. The John Jay Study deals only with the question of abuse of minors. Thus those case which involved adults are not included in the John Jay Study.
Q. How many cases from this archdiocese will be reported in the John Jay Study?
A. The study established strict instructions on what was to be included in the report. According to the criteria of the study only cases that occurred within a diocese were to be reported from that diocese. As was explained in the narrative of each case, several of these situations occurred in other places. These individuals have been reported from the jurisdiction in which the incidents took place. Additionally, the study is only collecting data on priests. Information on others who work on the church’s behalf (vowed religious or laity) is not included in the John Jay Study. The Erwin Commission reported on any individual who had served in the Archdiocese of Anchorage who had an allegation made against them regardless of where it occurred. The John Jay Study asks us to report only those cases which occurred here, that is 3 individuals.
Q. You have used the word jurisdiction. What does that mean?
A. As used in this document a jurisdiction is either a diocese, which has responsibility for diocesan priests or a religious community which has responsibility for priests (such as Jesuits, Oblates, Dominicans) who belong to an order.
Q. How many of the sixteen individuals currently work within the Archdiocese of Anchorage?
A. With the exception of Archbishop Sanchez who comes to work with the Hispanic community in Lent and Advent, none of the individuals reported have an assignment within the Archdiocese of Anchorage.
Q. How many work in ministry elsewhere?
A. As far as we know, six. However, none of these six have been accused of actions with minors.
Q. Over what period of time did these actions take place?
A. It is difficult to know for certain about events which occurred elsewhere. However, to the best of our knowledge regarding sexual abuse cases reported in the Erwin report the last incidents occurred about fifteen years ago.
Q. In reviewing priest personnel files how far back did the Erwin Commission go in its evaluation?
A. The Erwin Commission reviewed files back to the founding of the Archdiocese in 1966.
Q. How many priests served in the Archdiocese of Anchorage during this time?
A. Initially we thought that number was 84 as we had files on that number of priests. Subsequently we learned that a personnel file was not maintained on priests who came into the diocese for service to outlying parishes at Christmas and Easter and during summer time vacations or who might come to perform sacramental services at the request of a family or individual. Records of faculties granted (permission to perform sacramental ministry in the diocese) were subsequently reviewed as well as other archived materials. In collating this information we are now aware of 301 priests who have served the archdiocese since its inception.
Q. How much money has the Archdiocese spent related to clergy sexual abuse of minors?
A. Our financial records prior to 1998 are not available because of a change in accounting systems. Since 1998 we have provided $15, 390 for counseling services for victims of clergy abuse. There have been no cash settlements made by the Archdiocese with any victims. There are two priests who made settlements in regard to sexual misconduct with an adult and were individually responsible for these settlements. The Archdiocese has incurred some expenses relating to litigation however the bulk of these expenses were paid by our insurance company.
Archdiocese reveals details of sex-abuse allegations
Anchorage Daily News
The report released Friday revealed that some accused priests were not allowed to return to the ministry even after lengthy treatment, two fathered children and another was involved with a 17-year-old girl.
A three-person commission formed by Archbishop Roger Schwietz last year went through records of 84 priests and revealed in October that 16 priests had allegations against them, seven of them against children. Archdiocesan officials have since gone through records of more than 200 additional priests but found no new allegations, according to the new report.
Schwietz said in a written statement that the archdiocese has sent the names of three priests accused of sexually abusing children in Alaska to the national survey. The other four accused of child molestation were visiting Anchorage and are being reported by their home dioceses, said the Rev. Donald Bramble, Anchorage's vicar general.
Only a few, including Monsignor Francis Murphy, the Rev. Timothy Crowley and the former archbishop of Santa Fe, were named in the report.
"We have used names of perpetrators in the report only when those names have otherwise been made public," Schwietz said. "The motivation in doing this is to protect victims from additional suffering. No cases of sexual abuse of minors involves clergy who are currently serving in the Archdiocese of Anchorage."
Anchorage - Three Roman Catholic priests assigned to the Archdiocese of Anchorage have been the subjects of credible accusations of child sexual abuse since the archdiocese was founded in 1966, according to results of a national abuse survey released by Anchorage church leaders Friday.
The findings of the confidential study include fewer than half of the seven priests mentioned in an independent review commissioned last year by Schwietz.
Four of the priests counted in the earlier report did not meet the criteria for the national survey because the allegations against them could not be substantiated, the alleged abuse occurred before they were assigned to Alaska or, in one case, the priest was actually a religious brother.
Altogether, 301 priests have served in the archdiocese since its establishment.
"We continue to deal with what has happened and put in place programs to deter its happening again," Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, who was out of town, said in a written statement. "Within this archdiocese we have done much, yet more needs to be done."
The national study was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to determine the scope of abuse of minors by clergy across the country.
"No cases of sexual abuse of minors involve clergy who are currently serving in the Archdiocese of Anchorage," Schwietz wrote.
New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice conducted the review, which examined cases from 1950 to 2002 involving the 195 dioceses in the nation. Dioceses were responsible for documenting credible cases that occurred under their jurisdiction.
The Anchorage Archdiocese and the Juneau and Fairbanks dioceses are among the many to disclose their numbers before the findings are formally released February 27.
Sister Charlotte Davenport, chancellor of the archdiocese, said the study is valuable, but limited because it focuses on only a fraction of society.
"One of the challenging issues is that it's only looking at one unique population and that raises the question, 'What does this have to say if we don't have data from other populations?'" said Davenport, who is leading an effort to improve the church's response to reports of sexual misconduct.
"On the other hand, there's been a violation of trust and we as a church have to move forward in healing that violation."
Davenport said one of the priests in the John Jay review is Monsignor Francis Murphy, who left Alaska in 1985 for alcohol treatment. Archdiocese officials have said at least five people claimed they were sexually abused as children by Murphy.
The second priest, who has not been identified, was sexually involved with a 17-year-old girl in the mid-1980s. According to the archdiocese, the priest reported his misconduct and asked for help. He was immediately removed from ministerial duties and later served under close supervision in another jurisdiction, which was informed of his history, according to the archdiocese.
Davenport said she didn't know the circumstances involving the third priest.
Last week, the Juneau and Fairbanks dioceses outlined their findings.
The Juneau diocese said three priests among the 97 in its history have been accused of sexually abusing a total of six children. The diocese has paid out $1,541.64, primarily for counseling and medication.
The Fairbanks diocese counted two priests out of about 145 who had been accused by a total of seven children, including six former altar boys who sued the diocese last year. The plaintiffs allege a now-dead Jesuit - the Rev. Jules Convert - abused them in the 1970s. The diocese reached a $30,000 settlement in September with one of the plaintiffs.
The Anchorage archdiocese, which did not disclose the number of children for privacy reasons, has paid out $15,390 for counseling services to people claiming abuse.
"This whole experience can't be forgotten," Davenport said.
"But we have to learn to live with it, and learn to live with it
in a healthy way."
By Nicole Tsong
Archbishop Robert Sanchez resigned his post in New Mexico in 1993 after his sexual relationships with women became public. Church officials in Anchorage said they have learned it's possible the misconduct may also have involved teenagers.
Sanchez has celebrated Mass with the Hispanic community during Lent and Advent at Holy Family Cathedral and Our Lady of Guadalupe. But after his name was revealed in an archdiocese report Friday on abusive priests, church officials said they learned through Albuquerque, N.M., newspaper accounts that he may have been sexually involved with teenage girls, said chancellor Sister Charlotte Davenport.
"We were always under the impression that it was adult women," she said. "If there were teens involved, then the charter comes into effect."
The charter was mandated by American bishops in Dallas in 2002 after the sexual abuse scandal roiled the Catholic Church. It required dioceses to permanently remove priests after a single act of sexual abuse of a minor.
Sanchez was supposed to return for Lent next week, but Archbishop Roger Schwietz is consulting with the pope's representative in Washington, D.C., about the allegations and whether he should be allowed to minister on even a limited basis, Davenport said. A decision should be made by Monday at the latest, she said.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the Anchorage archdiocese should be declared in violation of the charter because it allowed Sanchez to minister here.
David Clohessy, SNAP's national director, said in a statement Monday, "The simple truth is that Sanchez abused his power and admitted sexually exploiting young, vulnerable, trusting, devout teens."
Retired Archbishop Francis Hurley was friends with Sanchez, said the Very Rev. Donald Bramble, vicar general. After Sanchez resigned in Santa Fe, Hurley asked a representative of the pope to allow him to serve in Anchorage on a limited basis because of the need here for Spanish speaking priests, Bramble said.
The archdiocese has to request permission from the pope's representative
for each of Sanchez's visits. He stays with Schwietz while in Anchorage
and is closely watched, Bramble said. Sanchez now lives in Minnesota and
is the chaplain for a community of nuns, he said.
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