Bishop Accountability


Credibly Accused Priests: 13 (of which 11 substantiated)
Total Priests: 265
Persons Making Allegations: 17
Cost: $677,678 (of which $341,930 for settlements with victims and amounts paid for medical, psychiatric and psychological treatment of victims; and $335,748 professional assessment and treatment for priests; financial assistance for accused priests is mentioned in the report but an amount is not given)
Data are since diocese was established in 1944.

Statement of The Most Rev. R. Daniel Conlon
Bishop of Steubenville, Ohio

February 27, 2004

STEUBENVILLE, OH: A study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, New York, was released today, February 27, 2004. It addresses incidents of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the United States from 1950-2002. Confidential data for the study was presented by the Catholic dioceses of the United States.

The John Jay Study was undertaken at the request of the Bishops themselves. We wanted a clearer picture of the abuse that occurred over the past 50 years. We can't change history but we can and should take steps that it does not repeat itself. One way to do that is to have available the significant data which helps us understand the nature and scope of the problem in the past. Although the John Jay Study has no real counterpart in any other profession, the Bishops felt compelled to commission this study to make sure that the terrible problem of sexual assaults against children will not recur in the Church.

Dealing with the very real problems from the past should not obscure the Church’s current approach to the problem of the sexual abuse of minors. The principles for dealing with sexual abuse allegations, set forth by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992, and the Restoring Trust reports issued by the Bishops' Conference Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse, set up in 1993, are evidence of the Bishops' longstanding concern for this problem.

In 1989, the Diocese of Steubenville developed and promulgated a written public policy for handling sex abuse cases. A Clergy Health Care Panel was established which included laity. A policy of informing the appropriate public agency of child abuse allegations was instituted. Clergy were immediately removed from ministry at the time allegations were substantiated. This policy was revised in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People developed by the Bishops and adopted in June of 2002.

As requested by those conducting the John Jay Study, the Diocese of Steubenville reviewed the files regarding all priests and deacons who had or were serving in the Diocese. The review indicated that a total of 265 diocesan priests had been incardinated and ministered in the Diocese since it was established in 1944.

Credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors were lodged against thirteen of the 265 diocesan priests from 1950-2002. Seventeen persons made those allegations. The acts which these priests are accused of performing all occurred before 1989, although some of the incidents have been reported in more recent years. All of the allegations against priests who are still living, whether the Diocese considered that they were substantiated or not, have been reported to the proper civil authorities.

In eleven of the thirteen cases the allegations were considered substantiated. None of the eleven priests are presently serving in the Diocese of Steubenville or in any other diocese. Six of the priests who have had substantiated allegations raised against them are deceased, while the other five have been prohibited from functioning publicly as priests. In the two cases involving unsubstantiated allegations, those priests are functioning outside the Diocese of Steubenville, and the local bishops have been fully informed of the allegations.

During the 52 year period covered by the John Jay Study, the Diocese has spent $341,930 assisting victims of sexual abuse by priests. This amount includes settlements with victims as well as amounts paid for medical, psychiatric and psychological treatment of these victims. Some victims have not requested compensation or counseling. It should be noted that the funds for these payments came from investments and the sale of unneeded diocesan property. None of the funds came from general collections, the Diocesan Parish Share Campaign, or the assessments of regular parish income.

The Diocese has also expended funds to aid in the treatment of its priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of minors. The amounts paid for professional assessment and treatment for these individual priests was $335,747.64. Of the five living priests with substantiated allegations of abuse, some are receiving financial assistance from the Diocese due to advanced age or disability. This assistance is provided only when truly necessary and as required by Church law.

I regret deeply that any child was ever harmed by a priest or by anyone serving on behalf of the Church. For such a thing to happen is a serious crime and an act contrary to the will of Christ, who showed such tender care for children. In addition, it has brought shame upon the whole community of believers. I hope that the information released today will allow everyone to recognize the reality of past abuse and to strive for a better future. I am committed to providing leadership toward that future.

Once again, I apologize to those who were harmed by our priests. I also apologize for any failure in the past to address allegations of child abuse adequately. I encourage any other victims to come forward to the Diocese (and to the secular authorities). They will be treated with respect and compassion. I pray regularly for those who have been abused and ask God to heal and strengthen them.

Let me also take this occasion to say how proud I am of the priests of the Diocese of Steubenville, who everyday carry out their duties faithfully and with proper respect for the people they serve. I am also proud of the laity who have remained open to the loving power of God to get them through this tragedy of abuse.

(The telephone number for the Diocese of Steubenville is 740-282-3631.)


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