DIOCESE OF COVINGTON KY
By Jim Hannah firstname.lastname@example.org
"It's been six months since our initial of release of data," Bishop Roger J. Foys said in a statement Friday. "I made a pledge to keep the faithful of the diocese informed. Updating these figures at this time is part of that pledge."
The new report says 35, or 9.6 percent, of the diocesan priests abused 205 victims since 1950. That's an increase of 47 reported victims since the last report. Lawyers in a class-action lawsuit against the Covington Diocese claim the numbers are higher.
The diocese spent $14.3 million settling claims - $4.9 million from its own coffers and $9.4 million paid by insurance companies.
None of the money used to settle claims came from parish assessments, from the sale of real estate or from the diocesan annual appeal, church attorneys say.
The updated number came a week before a national survey of sex abuse claims against Roman Catholic priests is scheduled to be released. A watchdog panel formed by American bishops is overseeing the survey, which researchers from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York are doing it.
While information relating to individual dioceses will not be made public as part of the national report, some bishops, including Foys, have shared it with parishioners. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is expected to release a similar report to parishioners by Friday.
"I think it's clear from Covington's pronouncement that they underestimated (the number of victims) when they first made their announcement," said Bob Steinberg, a lawyer in a class-action sex abuse case against the Diocese of Covington. "It was 158 then. Now it's over 200. We have always estimated that the number of victims was over 500 and we still feel that way."
When he appeared in court with co-counsel Stan Chesley two weeks ago, Steinberg told the judge he had the names and addresses of 110 victims. He said attorneys for the class-action victims believe 57 priests or other officials in the church victimized people - a greater number than the diocese claims.
Steinberg would not say whether the diocese is doing enough to help sexual abuse victims.
"Our goal is to get compensation for all the victims," Steinberg said. "It is not to attack the bishop or the diocese."
Cindy Schroeder contributed.
AUGUST 18, 2003
Bishop Roger J. Foys was appointed the tenth Bishop of Covington on May 31, 2002. He was consecrated and installed as the Bishop of Covington on July 15, 2002 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption in Covington.
Bishop Foys arrived in Covington on the heels of the June 2002 meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Dallas. While having been named Bishop but not yet consecrated, he attended the June 2002 meeting as an observer. It was at this meeting that the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was adopted by the Bishops of the United States.
During his first year in office, Bishop Foys has studied the history of the Diocese of Covington regarding sexual abuse of minors by priests. He met regularly with the Diocesan Committee regarding Sexual Misconduct. He reviewed past allegations of abuse and how they were handled in this Diocese. This was obviously a complex undertaking because of the broad time period. Bishop Foys has called for this report, to share with the people of the Diocese of Covington what he has learned thus far as well as to share what he has done personally since his taking up the Office of Bishop in the Diocese of Covington.
Over the past 50 years, there is reasonable cause to believe that 30 out of 372 diocesan priests have sexually abused one or more minors. The Diocese has received 158 allegations against these 30 priests. Sixty-seven of these allegations are against one priest. Of the 30 priests, 9 are deceased and 4 are laicized. The other 17 have all been permanently removed from active ministry.
A breakdown by decade of incidents and number of reports received in that decade is as follows:
[Incidents = # of incidents reportedly occurring
The procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests have changed over the years in response to the increasing level of awareness of the damage done by the misconduct. In the 1950’s and 1960’s sexual misconduct was perceived as a spiritual matter, a sin for confession with a penance to be performed with sincere contrition and a firm purpose of amendment. There was always the goal of forgiveness and redemption. The priest was sent for treatment at a residential facility or required to attend psychological counseling. Oftentimes, the recommendation from the mental health professionals was that the problem had been satisfactorily addressed and that the priest could safely be returned to ministry with appropriate monitoring and psychological and spiritual support.
The severity of the problem of sexual abuse of minors reached a new level of awareness in the 1980’s when allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests was widely publicized in the media. In 1985 a policy regarding child abuse was promulgated in the Diocese of Covington. At that time, workshops were held for priests and diocesan personnel explaining the policy.
The abuse crisis escalated in the Diocese of Covington in 1992 with the allegations made against Father Earl Bierman. He was arrested, charged with molesting minors and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is still serving that sentence. The publicity from this case raised public awareness in the Diocese of Covington. The Diocese contacted former students of Earl Bierman, asking those who were abused to contact the Diocese. Notices were placed in the Diocesan newspaper, the Messenger, offering psychological counseling and help to victims. Following this, more cases surfaced as it became publicly acceptable to discuss the pain and damage done by sexual abuse of minors.
In 1993, in a document called Restoring Trust, the United States bishops set some guidelines regarding the sexual abuse of minors by priests. In response to that document, a Diocesan Review Board was formed to address this problem in the Diocese of Covington. Its main charge was to advise the Bishop, revise the Diocesan policies and procedures for addressing sexual misconduct, review and recommend Diocesan programs relating to sexual misconduct and serve as an independent review committee. In 1995 policies and procedures for addressing sexual misconduct were promulgated in the Diocese of Covington. At the same time, the Board recommended ongoing in-service programs for all priests, teachers and volunteers who regularly work with minors. These programs were conducted throughout the Diocese.
Bishop Foys directed that this report span the past 50 years. The number of priests and the number of incidents does span this time period. Detailed financial information, however, is not available for that same time frame. Detailed financial information is available from 1989 to the present. This is the period during which the Diocese of Covington received the majority of allegations. Bishop Foys has directed that this financial information be shared with you.
From 1989 until the present the following expenditures were made:
From 1993 until the present, the insurance carrier for the Diocese has
No money has been expended for sexual abuse cases from parish assessments, from the sale of real estate or from the Diocesan Annual Appeal. All monies expended have either been paid directly by the Diocese’s insurers or by accrued interest on investments.
Bishop Foys has revised the policies and procedures of the Diocese of Covington for addressing sexual misconduct so that they are now in complete conformity with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Policies and Procedures for Addressing Sexual Misconduct are given to each person working with minors in the Diocese and each recipient is required to sign a statement that he or she has read it and agrees to abide by it. These policies are available on the Diocesan website (www.covingtondiocese.org). Bishop Foys has also promulgated a policy for background checks for all new employees and all volunteers who work with minors. Bishop Foys has also directed full cooperation with civil authorities. All allegations regarding minors, without exception, even if not required by law, will be reported to the appropriate civil authorities.
Bishop Foys has directed his staff to offer any person alleging abuse as a minor a personal meeting with the Bishop. Confidentiality agreements, such as have been entered into in the past when claims were settled, are no longer to be a part of any settlement, unless requested by the victim. Neither will Bishop Foys hold anyone to a confidentiality agreement that was entered into as part of a past settlement.
Bishop Foys has appointed Ms. Margaret M. Schack, Diocesan Chancellor, to be the Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Covington. It is Ms. Schack’s primary duty to coordinate the pastoral care of anyone who reports having been sexually abused as a minor by a priest. This appointment is in conformity to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
In December 2002 Bishop Foys met with the entire presbyterate of the Diocese of Covington and reviewed with them the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. He spoke of the seriousness of the sexual abuse of children by priests and outlined the policies and procedures to be followed in our Diocese. He also spoke of the need for the continuing education and formation of priests and called for quarterly gatherings of the entire presbyterate for prayer and spiritual and educational formation.
PUBLICATION: I hereby direct that this report be published and released to the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the Diocese of Covington.
Given at the Chancery of the Diocese of Covington on this 25th day of August in the Year of Our Lord 2003.
Most Reverend Roger J. Foys, D. D.
Ms. Margaret Schack
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