DIOCESE OF HARRISBURG PA
Bishop Dattilo announced the statistics in anticipation of the release next week of a national study of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy between 1950 and 2002. That study was commissioned by the National Review Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York.
“The statistics we are releasing are current as of February 12, 2004, and include the figures we reported to John Jay College for inclusion in its study,” the bishop said. The study included figures from 1950 through 2002.
He said the difference between the current total and the lower total the diocese has reported in the past was due to two factors: first, the addition of legal fees and counseling fees to the amounts paid directly to victims of abuse, information which was requested for the John Jay study, and second, a more accurate accounting of the costs gathered from several Diocesan offices and from diocesan insurers.
The Very Reverend William J. King, director of the Diocesan Youth Protection Program, said the research involved combing through files that covered more than half a century.
“We believe the statistics we have now compiled are as complete and as accurate as possible,” Bishop Dattilo said.
“The Harrisburg Diocese has been a leader in openly addressing the problems that have occurred within the Church in the past with respect to the handling of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests,” the bishop added. “We have continued to encourage anyone who may have been a victim of abuse to come forward, so it remains a possibility that more allegations could come to light in the future.”
Of the 891 priests who served in the diocese from 1950 through 2004, slightly less than 2.5 percent were credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors. None of these priests are in any form of active priestly ministry.
“While any instance of sexual abuse is one too many,” the bishop said, “we can say unequivocally that in our diocese never has a credibly accused priest been sent for treatment and then placed back into the ministry.”
Bishop Dattilo emphasized that the Diocese of Harrisburg had been responsive in the handling of abuse allegations as they arose. The diocese has reported every credible allegation to the civil authorities, and will continue to do so, according to Father King, even if not mandated by civil law.
The Harrisburg Diocese has put in place extensive new policies and a Youth Protection Program with strict guidelines and procedures designed to prevent sexual abuse of minors from occurring in the future. Details about the Youth Protection Program are available online at the diocesan Web site at www.hbgdiocese.org.
All clergy, religious, and lay employees have undergone criminal background checks, and several thousand volunteers will receive Pennsylvania State Police and Pennsylvania ChildLine checks within the next few months. A “safe environment” training program for educators, clergy, lay employees, and volunteers who work with youth has been developed as well. A uniform and simple method of reporting suspected sexual abuse of a minor within the diocese – a toll-free number (1-800-626-1608) – is now in operation.
Father King noted, “For many years the Diocese of Harrisburg has repeatedly encouraged victims of sexual abuse to come forward for assistance, and we again make the plea: if anyone is aware of, or suspects, the sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon, do not hesitate to contact us or the civil authorities.”
Father King, as director of the Youth Protection Program, is now responsible for maintaining statistics regarding allegations of abuse. This ensures that all relevant information will now be collected in one central location. Bishop Dattilo has authorized the development and installation of case management software to make sure records are tracked accurately.
Bishop Dattilo has asked every parish and church in the Diocese to pray
for the healing of the victims and survivors of abuse and their families
during Mass on Ash Wednesday.
February 20, 2004
Bishop Nicholas C. Dattilo recently sat with an interviewer and answered questions about the Diocese of Harrisburg and the John Jay study, which was commissioned by the National Review Board established by the U.S. bishops to help them deal with the clergy sex abuse crisis.
What is the John Jay study?
According to the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the study is a compilation of the number of incidents, offenders, and victims of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy between 1950 and 2002. The anticipated official release date is February 27, 2004.
The National Review Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned the study. The Board selected the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York to conduct the study because of the college’s reputation for research and education in forensic science, criminology, and human behavior.
What is the study’s purpose?
Since so few studies exist which delve into the area of sexual abuse
of children, it is the intention of the National Review Board to foster
a dialogue in academic, legal, law-enforcement circles, among others,
to prevent further abuse to the extent possible.
The John Jay study includes information regarding victims, offenders, incidents of abuse and the costs of therapies, treatment, and attorney’s fees, but the statistics are not broken down by individual dioceses. The study is also anonymous, in that there are no names of victims included.
We have released publicly the statistics we reported for inclusion in the study. Our research shows the diocese paid out a total of approximately $1.9 million from 1950-2002 to settle claims in connection with 35 credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors against a total of 22 priests.
While any instance of such abuse is one too many, we can say unequivocally that in our diocese never has a credibly accused priest been sent for treatment and then placed back into the ministry.
How does what’s reported in the John Jay study differ from what the diocese has reported publicly previously? Why have the numbers changed?
We reported a lower dollar amount in the past. The difference comes from the addition of legal fees and counseling fees to the (previously) reported amount the diocese has paid out in settlements. We also turned up more extensive information by searching every conceivable file and reviewing records as many as three times.
Researching cases covering more than half a century has been a challenging task. Over five decades the structure of diocesan offices has changed. Responsibility of dealing with allegations such as these likewise has changed.
We believe the statistics we have now compiled are as accurate as possible. However, we have continued to encourage anyone who may have been a victim of abuse to come forward, so it remains a possibility that more allegations could come to light.
Why did it take the John Jay study to elicit an exhaustive accounting from the Church?
This study was initiated by an arm of the Church. This is the Church
calling itself into account.
Funds used for settlements have come from insurance proceeds and investment income.
The statistics released by the diocese indicate more money was spent on therapy for accused clergy than for their victims. Why is that?
Several factors are involved. First, we consider the cost of therapy for a victim to be the responsibility of the individual abuser, and we have enforced that policy whenever possible. Second, many victims have come forward only in later life, after they have already undergone therapy on their own. Third, those victims who have required therapy generally have received it on an outpatient basis; we require an abuser priest to be sent to a live-in treatment program.
What is the diocese doing to protect our children, to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
We have put in place extensive new policies and a Youth Protection Program with strict guidelines and procedures designed to prevent child abuse of minors from occurring in the future. Details are available on our Web site at www.hbgdiocese.org.
Where can I go for more information? Where can I find a copy of the John Jay report?
Go to the Web site for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at www.usccb.org
and click on “Child and Youth Protection.”
We have been proactive and forthcoming in dealing with this serious problem.
Remember that the work of the Church has never faltered. Throughout, the Church has continued to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, comfort the grieved, and care for the sick.
And please keep in mind that the vast majority of our priests have served faithfully. Less than 2.5 percent of the 891 priests who have served in the Diocese since 1950 were involved in credible allegations involving sexual abuse of minors.
Don’t let suspicion and mistrust interfere with your participation
in Church activities. Be informed and aware, but don’t be afraid
when it comes to allowing your children to participate
A letter from him was read by priests in York and the other 14 counties of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg in anticipation of Friday’s release of a national study of clergy sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church.
Local churches have responded by offering at least one Mass on Ash Wednesday to pray for the healing and reconciliation of victims of sexual or violent abuse. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent and the Church’s traditional season for self-reflection, penance, prayer and acts of charity.
The National Review Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York to conduct the study of abuse claims between 1950 and 2002. Some preliminary reports have said the number of abusive priests may be higher than what many experts have estimated — as many as 4 percent of the approximately 110,000 priests who served during that time may have been accused of abusing minors, according to the .
Belleville Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement Feb. 16 that the reports will be sobering. The bishops requested the study, he said, so that they could more fully understand what caused the abuse and prevent it from happening again.
Dattilo said faith, hope and love are the Church’s guiding virtues — and not despair.
“I encourage you to keep in the larger context what our Church is all about,” Dattilo said. “Fallen humanity reborn in Christ.”
On Sunday, the diocese released updated figures for abuse claims since 1950, saying the diocese has paid $1.9 million in connection with 35 allegations of abuse. The diocese concluded 22 out of 891 priests employed by the diocese during that time had sexually abused minors.
The last time the diocese released figures for clergy sexual abuse was in November 2002 when it said there had been 25 credible reports of abuse by 19 priests since 1989, and those priests were no longer in active ministry. Information about victims, accused priests and which churches they had served was not released.
The diocese has not said how many, if any, incidents of sexual abuse involved priests from York County and has not identified which churches any of these priests were connected to. The diocese said the numbers were not available, and that it lacked the manpower to generate them.
The bishop attributed the higher dollar figures released Sunday to the addition of legal and counseling fees — requested by the John Jay study — and also a more accurate accounting of the costs gathered from several diocesan offices and insurers.
The Rev. Robert Gillelan Jr. of St. Mary’s Church in York said the diocese has been honest and upfront, and he is pleased with the diocese’s handling of abuse claims. Any variations in the numbers were due to new information and ongoing claims, he said.
“Our bishop has put the numbers on the table from the very beginning — as much as he has known,” Gillelan said. “It’s not like the church is trying to lie and hide any information. It is more detailed information.”
The John Jay study results will include the number of incidents, offenders and victims of sexual abuse. Dattilo said in the Feb. 20 issue of the diocese newsletter, “The Catholic Witness,” that the study will not include a statistical breakdown by individual dioceses, and the victims will not be named.
Diocese payments include the following:
· Settlements: $1,581,068
· Inpatient treatment for clerics: $234,751
· Legal fees for the diocese: $110,004
· Outpatient counseling for victims: $57,410
· 6:30, 8:30 a.m.: St. Joseph’s Church, 5055 Grandview Road, Hanover, 637-5236.
· 10:30 a.m.: St. Joseph Elementary School, 242 Baltimore Street, Hanover.
· 9:05 a.m.: St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, 315 N. Constitution Ave., New Freedom, 235-2156.
· 5 p.m.: St. Joseph Church, 2935 Kingston Road, Springettsbury Township, call for Mass times, 755-7503.
· 5:30, 7 p.m.: St. Joseph’s Church, 5055 Grandview Road, Hanover, 637-5236.
· 6:30 p.m.: St. Patrick Church, 231 S. Beaver St., 848-2007.
· 7 p.m.: St. Mary’s Church, 309 S. George St., York, 845-7629.
· 7 p.m.: St. Rose of Lima Church, 950 W. Market St., York, 846-4935.
· 7:30 p.m.: St. Joseph’s Church, 251 E. Main St., Dallastown, 246-3007.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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