Nebraska AG report says dioceses failed to protect children

KCAU-TV, ABC-9, [Sioux City IA]

November 4, 2021

By Wesley Thoene

AG Peterson releases report of clergy sexual abuse

The Nebraska Attorney General has released a report of child sexual abuse committed by the clergy of the Nebraska dioceses.

The investigation began in August of 2018 when the Nebraska Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the three Nebraska Dioceses for files relating to sexual abuse dating back from January 1, 1978, according to a release from Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson.

The report concluded that there were credible allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct with 258 victims across the three dioceses. Below is a list of the diocese and the number of victims in each.ADVERTISING

  • Omaha Diocese – 158 victims
  • Lincoln Diocese – 97 victims
  • Grand Island Diocese – 3 victims

Fifty-seven church officials perpetrated the abuse. The officials were mainly priests, deacons, and Catholic school teachers.Death of Iowa man being investigated as a homicide, DCI assisting 

The release states that the most troubling finding in the report is that authorities chose the reputation of the church above the protection of the children, saying there were “numerous occasions when there was an opportunity to bring justice to the victims.”

Read the full report below.

In August of 2018, The release said investigators asked the dioceses for any claims of improper sexual conduct or incidents of child pornography or sexual communication with a minor. All three dioceses submitted the files.Former West Point priest sues Omaha Archdiocese over sex offender list 

In addition, the Archdiocese of Omaha also released a list of claims made against clergy in November 2018. They found 38 members of the clergy, including 24 diocesan and priests, had substantial allegations of sexual abuse against them since 1978

In addition, the dioceses were also asked what policies or procedures were in place for allegations of sexual misconduct. The AG’s office found that the policies and procedures were not uniform with each dioceses having its own system.

In continuation of the investigation, the DOJ decided they needed more information, so they issued 426 subpoenas to Catholic churches and Catholic schools across the state on February 19, 2019.

The release states that after reviewing files, victims of sexual abuse had agreements of financial settlement with the dioceses The DOJ issued more subpoenas to the liability insurance company representing the dioceses for more information of these settlements. 

The last thing investigators asked for was to review all psychological evaluations of priests who were being investigated for claims of sexual misconduct. The Grand Island and Lincoln Dioceses voluntarily released the data. For a review of evaluations from the Omaha Archdiocese, authorities entered into a protective order signed by the district court.First flu-related death in Iowa for the season announced 

Overall, the investigation involved the following:

  • A complete examination of the files of over 200 clergy members and diocesan employees, as well as the supplemental material requested in subpoena requests. 
  • An investigation of over 120 calls to the Hotline and Tip Line. The calls came from citizens who reported various types of sexual improprieties committed by clergy members or diocesan employees. Many of the calls came from victims of sexual abuse. Some calls were from parents or siblings who were told about incidents of sexual abuse from the victim. Most of the incidents had never been reported to law enforcement. 
  • A review of reports from newspapers and other media outlets chronicling sexual abuse by clergy members or diocesan employees.  
  • A review of 12 hours of recorded interviews with those reporting sexual abuse.
  • Examination of nearly 30,000 pages of relevant material.

Peterson said in a statement that to protect children, the church, church members, and law enforcement will need to remain vigilant. Read his full statement below.