DIOCESE OF COLUMBUS OH
Monsignor Stephan Moloney, diocesan chancellor and vicar general, is scheduled to present the following remarks to a meeting of diocesan priests on February 27.
The Diocese of Columbus cooperated fully with the John Jay Study and submitted its response within the established deadline.
In accordance with the study instructions, the files of the diocese were searched and reviewed, including the so-called “Secret Archives,” for the period of 1950 through 2002. Separate surveys were completed for each cleric ever accused of abuse, whether substantiated or not, and one for each alleged victim of abuse, all based on the information in the files.
Twenty-six cleric surveys were completed. This figure includes diocesan priests and deacons, extern priests and religious order priests for whom evidence of an allegation was found in diocesan files. This figure also included unsubstantiated allegations, allegations which were later withdrawn, allegations which were not reported until after the cleric was deceased, and allegations which either were not resolved or the outcome of which is not indicated in the file. All priests and deacons currently ministering in the Diocese of Columbus are free of any history of abuse, to the best of our knowledge and belief.
Thirty-nine victim surveys were completed. (Several clerics were accused by two or more alleged victims.)
The total amount of money spent by the diocese on these cases from 1950 to 2002 was $1.4 million. This figure includes settlements, counseling costs for victims, therapy for clerics, attorney fees and legal expenses related to these cases. All was covered by insurance or diocesan reserves.
Painful Past, Future of Hope
By Bishop James A. Griffin
Together, these studies will provide the Bishops with a comprehensive characterization of the nature and scope of the problem of abuse of minors within the Catholic Church in the United States. These studies are a unique and unprecedented effort in the history of our country and of our Church. No other institution has undertaken such a serious, objective, professional study of this problem.
These studies will help us achieve our goal of preventing any further abuse of children and young people in the Church. In order to effectively resolve this crisis, we must first fully understand the problems that gave rise to the crisis. The information revealed in the studies will be painful but necessary to that process of understanding.
These efforts to understand the nature and scope of sexual abuse of minors are one more step in the Church’s effort to ensure a positive answer to the critical question: Is it safe for children and young people to be with those who minister to them? The only acceptable answer to that question is a clear and unequivocal YES! While the John Jay Study contains many numbers and statistics, there is only one number that we in the Catholic Church can be satisfied with, and that number is zero. No one should ever suffer abuse in a Catholic setting.
I want to acknowledge the harsh realities these studies present. I realize these numbers will dismay people and even leave them feeling doubtful about the Church’s integrity. What has happened in the past is tragic, but there are reasons to feel optimistic. The Diocese of Columbus has had in place many long-standing protections to prevent abuse of minors, and in the last two years has implemented new measures to enhance those efforts. Today, these protections include exhaustive screening of candidates for the clergy and for job applicants, a strict code of clergy conduct, stringent employment policies, comprehensive training programs in every parish and school, and an uncompromising policy of zero-tolerance for abusers. These efforts are thorough, and they are succeeding.
There are indeed reasons to feel optimistic. I encourage you to embrace the efforts that are being made to protect children. I want you to be confident that you can trust those who minister to you and your children. I want you to know that clergy and everyone working in the name of the Church are held to the highest standards and that I expect them to live lives above reproach. I am dedicated to protecting our children and young people, and I will continue to commit the people and resources of the Diocese of Columbus to this effort. Our children and young people deserve nothing less.
By Dennis M. Mahoney
Twenty-six clerics in the Columbus Roman Catholic Diocese, including priests and deacons, were accused of sex abuse from 1950 to 2002, the diocese said yesterday.
During that period, the diocese said, allegations came from 39 people; some clerics were accused by more than one person. Most of the accusers were male.
About 900 priests served in the diocese during those years.
The diocese's numbers were included in a national study, released yesterday, of the scope of sex abuse by U.S. Catholic clerics in the past 50 years.
The report covered allegations that were substantiated, unsubstantiated, later withdrawn, made after a cleric's death, not resolved or for which there is no record of the outcome of the case.
Most of the accused either are dead or have left the ministry, the diocese said.
During the period, the Columbus Diocese spent $1.4 million on settlements and counseling for victims, therapy for priests and legal fees. All costs were covered by insurance or diocesan reserves, the diocese said.
Bishop James A. Griffin said last night that he was surprised by the large number of allegations cited in the study, based on the numbers in the Columbus Diocese. He said that only a small number ended up in prosecution.
The bishop said no priests now in ministry in the diocese have a history of abusing young people.
"As I said publicly on many occasions, I have to apologize to all those victims and to everybody who was hurt by these scandals, whether they had their faith shaken or (are) scandalized or angry, and we have to do what we can to make people whole. And giving them a settlement in some cases is the best we can do," he said.
Dr. Marian Schuda, a member of the Diocesan Review Board created by the Columbus Diocese to examine abuse allegations, said she was "dismayed" but not surprised by the figures.
She said that although she doesn't know how the figures compare with rates of abuse in other segments of society, "It's always wrong. These are obviously among the most vulnerable of our people, and they deserve protection."
Money spent on cases, such as for victim counseling, indicates the diocese has taken responsibility for the abuse, said Schuda, a Catholic and vice president of medical affairs at Riverside Methodist Hospital.
"I'm proud of them for coming forward and saying, 'You can't undo it, but let's see if we can fix it or heal it,' " she said.
Doug Jacobs, 41, who accused his cousin, a Columbus diocesan priest, of molesting him, said the report "saddens me."
"There was a culture that came out of the seminaries, especially in the late '60s and probably the mid-'70s, that kind of allowed this to happen," he said.
Jacobs said he was 14 when the Rev. Phillip Jacobs, his first cousin, molested him in 1976. The priest was ordained in 1974.
Doug Jacobs, now a member of Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, reported the molestation to the diocese two decades later after he had nightmares.
By that time, Griffin had barred Phillip Jacobs from the diocese for improper conduct with a minor, but he was allowed to join a diocese in British Columbia.
In 2002, he was removed by that diocese when his past became public.
Doug Jacobs said that before he reported the molestation, the diocese had complaints about his cousin.
"That's where my anger lies," he said. "The fact that they did not take this seriously enough to take swift, immediate action to report it to the authorities."
A spokeswoman for Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said yesterday that the prosecutor is satisfied that he has reviewed all the cases of abuse allegations in his jurisdiction.
In 2002, O'Brien said there was no need for action against any clerics after reviewing a number of cases, mostly because the allegations were too old.
The church's Steubenville Diocese also released data on abuse allegations yesterday.
Seventeen claims were lodged, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon said in a statement on the diocese's Web site.
Allegations against 11 of the 13 priests were substantiated, he said. Six of those priests are dead, and five have been prohibited from practicing as priests, he said.
Information from Religion News Service and the Associated Press was used
in this story.
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