1,455 new Catholic clergy abuse cases surfaced in 2017-18, audit finds


May 31, 2019

By Kim Chatelain

Nearly 1,500 new allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic church were brought forward over a one-year period ending June 30, 2018, a marked rise over previous years, the U.S. bishops’ conference reported Friday (May 31).

The annual report for audit year July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018 indicates that 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 new allegations, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection reported in a news release.

Based on the findings of StoneBridge Business Partners, a Rochester, New York, firm that specializes in forensic, internal and compliance audit services, the report indicated that 92 percent of the offending clergy members identified during the annual reporting period were either already dead, laicized, removed from ministry or missing. The majority of allegations concerned the period between 1960-1990, with a concentration in the 1970s, the audit found.

The report is the 16th of its kind since 2002 when the U.S. bishops’ conference approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a formal pledge to address the problem of clergy abuse that has rocked the Catholic church over the past several decades. The charter involves programs for background checks, safe environment training, review boards enforcing zero tolerance policies and victims’ assistance efforts.

In his preface to the report, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote of his “sincere gratitude” for the courage of victims of abuse.

“Because of their bravery in coming forward, victim/survivor assistance and child protection are now core elements of the Church,” DiNardo wrote. “The Church is a far safer place today than when we launched the charter in 2002.”

The escalation in the number of allegations displayed in the most recent report was attributed to the state-wide adoption of Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs by the five dioceses in the state of New York.

Some Catholics call for an outside investigative entity to hold leaders accountable.

Twenty-six new allegations involving current minors were presented during the report’s window, three of which were substantiated and resulted in a priest being removed from active ministry, according to the report. Seven allegations were listed as “unsubstantiated” by the time the report’s window closed.

Three were categorized as “unable to be proven” and investigations were still in progress for six of the allegations as of June 30, 2018. For the remaining seven allegations involving minors, two were referred to a religious order, two were reported as unknown clerics, and three were not claims of sexual abuse, but were boundary violations, according to the news release.

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