DIOCESE OF GARY IN
By Marc Chase
The seven allegations deemed credible by the diocese were part of 13 total allegations of sexual abuse made against nine different priests that are said to have occurred within that time period, Melczek said.
Friday's report is part of a larger national study being conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York following an edict from the U.S. bishops' national review board on sexual abuse. The edict, brought about by rising reports of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, followed a June 2002 meeting of the bishops in Dallas.
Melczek said that of the 13 allegations:
* Five credible allegations involved two priests who are not part of the diocese. Both priests, from separate religious orders, no longer serve parishioners in the diocese and one is no longer in the country. Their religious superiors have been notified, Melczek said.
* Two credible allegations involve priests who are now dead.
* Two allegations were determined to "lack sufficient evidence."
* Three allegations were made by people who did not request any further investigation into their claims.
"I deeply regret and apologize to anyone who has been victimized by members of the clergy who have presented themselves as ministers of healing and love," said Melczek, noting that the Gary Diocese removes from the ministry any priest deemed to have molested children.
The cases in Friday's report do not include that of defrocked Crown Point Monsignor Don Grass, who admitted last month that he molested a preteen more than 30 years ago.
Melczek pointed out that most of the 13 allegations of abuse were said to have occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, with the most recent two cases having reportedly occurred in the early 1980s. He also pointed out that the allegations involve nine priests out of more than 600 who have served as diocesan or religious order priests in the Gary area.
Overall, the Gary Diocese fared better than two others in Indiana that have also reported such figures recently, Melczek said.
In north-central Indiana's Diocese of Lafayette, credible evidence showed that 11 priests, two of whom were from outside that diocese, had sexually abused children. And Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese reported that 33 minors were sexually abused by 16 priests since 1950.
"Still, one victim is one too many," Melczek said. "Sexual abuse is a terrible crime and sin that has long-lasting effects on the victim."
The Gary Diocese also reported Friday that it has been found to be in compliance with the church's national charter aimed at protecting children from sexual abuse.
An audit of the diocese, conducted by a group of former FBI agents commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection, lauded the Gary chapter for a youth outreach program it established in 1993.
Programs that have trained those who work with youth in the diocese to recognize signs of abuse and the appointment of a victim assistance coordinator have put the Gary Diocese ahead of the curve, the audit concludes.
Official audits of all dioceses nationwide are scheduled to be completed
Tuesday, Melczek said. National results of the John Jay College study
are scheduled to be released Feb. 27.
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