Victim group seeks independent review of clergy abuse claims

Washington Times

By GREG MOORE – Associated Press – Tuesday, August 25, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) – A group of clergy sexual abuse victims called Tuesday for an independent commission to investigate molestation accusations sealed in a bankruptcy case involving the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The move comes a day after church lawyers formalized a $21 million settlement between nearly 400 abuse victims and the archdiocese. It advances a position the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has held for years: that church officials shouldn’t be the first authorities to review clergy abuse reports.

The victims’ group fears the settlement would expose only some of the abuse allegations, but church officials have firmly maintained that claims have been properly and transparently investigated and that they’ve worked to make sure children are safe.

In the settlement filing, the church outlines the steps it has taken, including conducting annual outside audits, which have resulted in “exemplary reports from the independent auditors.” It also says that every report of clerical sexual abuse of a minor, provided the accused cleric is still alive, is handed over to prosecutors.

The settlement shows that some of the accusations and associated narratives have been reviewed by victims’ lawyers and published on the archdiocese website in accordance with a 2013 court ruling.

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