DIOCESE OF ROCKFORD IL
This report outlines instances of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Rockford from 1950 to 2002 inclusive. It represents a compilation of data provided to the John Jay College research team for the purpose of providing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops with data about the scope of the matter in accordance with provisions in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
In 1987, as a result of a discussion by the nation’s bishops in response to scandals in other parts of the country, the Diocese adopted a policy regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy. The policy called for the formation of an Intervention Team, now known as an Intervention Committee, to promptly investigate all allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy (priests and deacons). The policy called for diocesan leadership to act quickly and decisively to protect children and young people when circumstances warranted, and to discipline proven abusers.
Many of the more than 190 dioceses and archdioceses across the country implemented similar policies, but some did not.
The policy in the Diocese of Rockford was updated in minor ways from time to time. In 1995 it was revised to include all diocesan employees, and all volunteers who would have contact with children and young people.
After the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and related Essential Norms were approved by the bishops of the United States and the Vatican in 2002, the Diocese of Rockford revised its policy again to conform to the provisions in these documents.
Major changes included:
* Expanding the membership of the Intervention Committee to ensure that a majority of members are not clergy or employees of the Diocese. Today the Intervention Committee consists of three priests, two women religious, and 11 respected members of the community, including two sexual abuse counselors, two retired judges, a social worker and a nurse.
* Adding a professional investigator with experience as an FBI special agent, prosecutor and trial judge with extensive experience in cases of juvenile abuse.
* Operating under expanded provisions of mandatory reporting because both the Charter and revised state statutes require that all clergymen serve as "mandatory reporters" who are required to report all instances and alleged instances of sexual abuse of minors to appropriate legal authorities.
During the 52-year period between 1950 and 2002, of the 468 diocesan and religious priests who have served in the Diocese of Rockford during that time, charges of sexual abuse of minors have been substantiated and proven against three clergymen by diocesan authorities. That number represents less than seven-tenths of one percent (0.64%) of the total clergy serving in the Diocese during that period, and less than eight-tenths of one percent (0.77%) of the 388 diocesan clergy serving in the Diocese during that period. None of those clerics are active in ministry today.
Allegations of all types
During the 52-year period between 1950 and 2002, allegations of sexual abuse of minors have been made by 32 people against 28 clergymen. The 28 clergymen included 21 diocesan priests, one deacon and six religious priests working in the Diocese at the time the alleged incidents were said to occur.
The allegations involving six priests belonging to religious orders were turned over to the superiors of their respective religious orders for resolution. In none of these instances was the alleged abuser serving in the Diocese at the time the allegations were made, nor were any allegations made by a person while they were still a minor. Instead, the instances of alleged abuse occurred many years, even many decades, before any allegations were made.
The allegations against 22 diocesan clergymen include:
* allegations against five clergymen that were found to be without any merit;
* allegations against three clergymen that were found to be substantiated and proved;
* allegations against 14 clergymen that remain unsubstantiated and, to this point, unproven.
All of the allegations that remain unsubstantiated and unproven were made against clergymen who are now deceased.
Many of the allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergymen have been of a nature that makes their full and complete investigation very difficult, if not impossible. For example:
* Eight of the allegations concern events in the 1960s. Seven of these allegations were brought to the Diocese’s attention in 2000 or more recently, meaning they concern matters alleged to have occurred 31 to 42 years earlier. The other allegation was brought to the Diocese’s attention in the 1990s, 21 to 39 years later. All of these allegations concerned clergymen who were deceased when the allegations were made, giving investigators no opportunity to question the accused and giving the accused no opportunity to defend themselves.
* Six of the accusations concern events alleged to have occurred in the 1970s. Four of these six allegations were not made prior to 2000, and none were made before 1990.
* In some cases alleged victims were able to provide diocesan investigators with only the sketchiest information about the circumstances of their alleged abuse. Difficulties in verifying some allegations included the alleged victims’ inability to provide a name of the alleged perpetrator, provide a location of the alleged abuse, or provide a date — even a year — of the alleged abuse. While this report includes these allegations in its total above, there is no way to proceed to establish their validity.
Summary of situation in the Diocese
There is no clergyman in parish ministry in the Diocese of Rockford today who has ever had an allegation made against him.
There has never been a single instance where allegations of sexual abuse of a minor were made against a clergyman in the Diocese while the alleged victim was still a minor.
There has never been a single instance where the Diocese maintained a clergyman in parish ministry or permitted him access to young people after credible charges were made against him.
Costs to the Diocese
In the period from 1950 through 2002, the Diocese of Rockford has expended $110,110 in response to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. Of this total, $105,110 was spent on counseling for victims and alleged victims.
To report an allegation
To report an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, people are directed to:
* (1) call their local police authorities and;
* (2) then call the Diocese of Rockford victim abuse line at
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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