The Year in Review
Important Events of 2003

At we have been sifting through the momentous events of 2003, and below we bring you the year as we see it, in words and pictures. What lessons do you see, and what omens for the new year?

February 10, 2003
Release of Grand Jury Report on the Rockville Centre (NY) Diocese
The 180-page grand jury report focused attention on possible collusion among diocesan abuse teams. The stories about each abuser also highlighted the silence of their fellow priests, and the report ended with recommendations for legislative and other reforms. See the report text, Newsday's useful key to the priests, and media reports, including reactions of survivors. (Photo of Rosanne Bonventre, the grand jury foreperson, by Jim Peppler.)

March 3, 2003
Release of Attorney General's Report on the Manchester NH Diocese

This report and the accompanying huge archive of diocesan and investigative files were released to fulfill an agreement between the Manchester diocese and the attorney general, allowing the diocese to escape indictment for multiple counts of child endangerment. See the report and its
archive, media coverage, and our in-depth feature on the diocese. (Photo by Gary Dennis.)

June 2-18, 2003
Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien of Phoenix: From Agreement to Resignation
A deal between O'Brien and County Attorney Romley had been signed in May 2003. In early June it was announced that O'Brien had accepted some oversight in order to avoid indictment on a felony charge of obstructing justice. The deal did not involve the release of files, as had the similar Manchester agreement. After O'Brien's June 16 arrest on hit-and-run charges, he was forced to resign, and Archbishop Sheehan was appointed caretaker on the eve of the USCCB meeting in St. Louis. See articles and documents on the deal, the resignation, and the phenomenon of fixers among the bishops. (Photo by Emmanuel Lozano.)

June 10, 2003
Louisville Settlement
The Archdiocese of Louisville KY settled 240 lawsuits against 34 priests and other church staff for $25.7 million, with a 40% attorneys' fee. The terms, attorney's fees, and relatively low per-victim awards have made this a contentious settlement and a dubious precedent. See an account of the settlement and Archbishop Kelly's statement. (Photo by Durell Hall, Jr.)

June 12-16, 2003
Governor Keating Compares Some Bishops to Mafia and Is Forced to Resign
Governor Frank Keating, chairman of the bishops' National Review Board, said in an interview that his board had encountered resistance from some bishops, whom he described as behaving "like La Cosa Nostra." Cardinal Mahony sought and obtained Keating's resignation. See the original interview with Mahony's reply, Keating's letter of resignation with press reports, and his two op-eds on accepting the job and on resigning a year later. (Photo by Associated Press)

June 26, 2003
Supreme Court Strikes Down CA's Statute of Limitations Law
Freeing convicted and even confessed molesters from prison, the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a CA law that had allowed criminal prosecution in child abuse cases beyond the statute of limitations. The Stogner decision had no bearing on another CA law, which allowed survivors to file civil suits during 2003 on lapsed cases. Hundreds did so. See reports and commentary on the Stogner decision, and a report on the civil statute.

July 1-30, 2003
Archbishop Seán P. O'Malley of Boston: From Appointment to Installation

O'Malley made a successful visit to Boston on July 1, immediately after his appointment, and returned for his installation on July 30. In the interim, settlement negotiations and most survivor activism went on hold, despite the release (see below) of Attorney General Reilly's report during this period. See O'Malley's press conference during the Boston visit after his appointment, and his homily at his installation. (Photo by David L. Ryan)

July 23, 2003
Release of Attorney General's Report on the Boston (MA) Archdiocese
The report found that at least 237 Boston priests over the past six decades had been accused of abusing at least 789 minors, many more than previously known. Reilly found that Law and his managers had been aware of the numbers, despite their claims to the contrary. Reilly said he couldn't press charges, but he called for changes, yet to be implemented by O'Malley. The report spurred demands for the resignations of bishops who'd once been Law's managers. See the report with summary, an assessment of Reilly's failure to indict, and one call for resignations. (Photo by Barry Chin.)

August 1, 2003
Bishop Thomas V. Daily's Resignation Is Accepted
Within a week of the Reilly report's release, the Vatican accepted Daily's resignation, tendered in September 2002 at age 75. "Daily had a clear preference," wrote Reilly, "for keeping priests who sexually abused children in pastoral ministry and generally followed a practice of transferring those priests without supervision or notification to new parishes" (p. 32). See Reilly's report, an account of the resignation, Daily's deposition {1}{2} with video, and accounts {1}{2}{3} of how Daily treated abusive priests. (Photo by the New York Times.)

September 9, 2003
Boston Settlement
The Boston archdiocese settled with 552 survivors for $85 million, to be apportioned by arbitration in late December. The settlement offers the average victim less than half what was given in the 2002 Providence settlement. Despite reports, therapy reimbursement is not written into the Agreement (see para. 13a), but included only by reference to (changeable) archdiocesan policy. See the Globe account and a dissenting view, the Memorandum and Agreement, and a comparative table. Click here for a fuller discussion and other links. (Photo by Essdras M. Suarez.)

November 20, 2003
Archdiocese of Cincinnati Convicted
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk pled no contest, and the archdiocese was found guilty of 5 counts of failure to report a crime. No individuals were found guilty, but the prosecutor obtained files that he had sought. See the Agreement, media accounts {1}{2}, and Pilarczyk's statement. (Photo by Al Behrman.)

November 26, 2003
Judge Orders Davenport Diocese to Turn Over Records from Last 50 Years
District court judge Judge C.H. Pelton of Clinton County IA ordered the Davenport diocese to turn over 50 years of church records, gathered for the 2003 USCCB "audit." The ruling parallels that of Judge Constance Sweeney, whose action led to the public release of 40,000 pages of Boston archdiocesan documents. Pelton's order is being appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court. See accounts of the decision {1}{2}{3}{4} and the USCCB's failure to audit Davenport (end of the Audit Schedule paragraph).

December 31, 2003
Hundreds File Civil Suits before Window Closes

A bill (SB 1779), sponsored by California state senate leader John Burton, designated 2003 as a one-year period for victims of abuse to file civil suit against their alleged perpetrators' employers, in cases that would otherwise have been beyond statute. See reports {1}{2} on the rush to file, the text of the bill with summary, the CA bishops' response (read in all CA parish pulpits), and two other perspectives {1}{2}.





















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