Bishop Accountability

Credibly Accused Priests: 20
Total Priests: 1,031 (including order priests and deacons)
Persons Bringing Credible Allegations: 38
Cost: $270,000 (of which $240,000 in counseling fees [apparently for 1950-2002] and $30,000 in legal expenses [1989-2003]

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop Donald Trautman. The June 2002 database examined the records of bishops and identified those who had allowed accused priests to continue working or had otherwise protected priests accused of sexual abuse. The database is relevant to the bishops' "Nature and Scope" study because the bishops who prepared the surveys for the study are in many cases responsible for the "scope" of the problem.

Erie Diocese releases sex abuse statistics

The (St. Marys PA) Daily Press
March 1, 2004

The Catholic Diocese of Erie reported Feb. 27 that in the last 52 years, 20 of 1,031 clergy serving in the diocese have had credible allegations of sexual abuse involving minors brought against them.

The number represents 1.9 percent of clergy - both diocesan and from religious communities — and deacons who have served the 13 - county diocese in the last five decades.

Also, the diocese said that during that time, 38 people brought credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors against clergy. The diocese said it paid $240,000 in counseling fees. Over the last 16 years, the diocese paid $30,000 in legal expenses. According to Bishop Donald W. Trautman, none of the money came from donations in the weekend collections or from gifts to the annual Catholic Services Appeal. Monies came from investments, insurance and from some of the clerics themselves, he said.

"On behalf of the Church, I will continue to steadfastly address the harm caused by the sin of sexual abuse by a small segment of clergy," Bishop Trautman said. "I have met with the victims, looked into their eyes and have seen their pain carried for so many years. I grieve deeply with them, their families, and anyone else affected. At the same time, we must be supportive of the overwhelming majority of priests who are trustworthy and true, priests who have served God's people with faithfulness and hard work. You know who those priests are."

The bishop said that all allegations regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy, which have been reported to him, deal with cases prior to 1990 when he was named to head the Diocese of Erie. He assured the diocese's 225,000 Catholics that there is no priest, deacon or lay person in any ministry in the diocese about whom allegations of sexual abuse have been made.

On the allegations, Bishop Trautman said two were made in the 1950s, 10 in the 1960s, 17 in the 1970s, nine in 1980s, and none from the 1990s until now.

The bishop noted that the Diocese of Erie has had a clear policy on sexual abuse and misconduct by priests and deacons since 1985. The policy has been amended three times. Also, the diocese implemented a similar policy affecting lay employees and volunteers in 1995. In 2003, the policy was revised according to the U.S. bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

He said a team of independent auditors found the Catholic Diocese of Erie in full compliance with the charter adopted by U.S. bishops in June 2002 in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal. Also, he said the diocese in May will use a video/DVD ("Creating a Safe Environment") it produced to train staff and volunteers at parishes and schools on child protection.

"We have a good story to tell as far as responding to the problem well before it became a national crisis," the bishop said.

Also, he said the problem of clergy sex abuse had to be put into historical context.

"It is important to realize that the tragedy of child sex abuse is not confined to the Church but is found in every walk of life," he said. "Our understanding of this crime has evolved over the years. Psychologists and psychiatrists do not give the same advice today to bishops as they did in the '60's, '70's and '80's."

He added, "As research has shed new light on the problem, we have adjusted accordingly."

The bishop said that he is not releasing the names of accused priests since several of them are deceased. Also, he said he wanted to honor the privacy of victims who have formally requested that they do not want to be damaged further by unwanted publicity. In the absence of legally proven charges against accused individuals, he said he did not have the right to mention names.

Bishop Trautman said: "Before the Lord I believe our diocesan house is in order. At World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, Canada, Pope John Paul II spoke these words: 'The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame. But think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good."

The bishop released the figures Feb. 27 on the same day national numbers compiled by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York were made public. The Diocese of Erie statistics were sent to the college in June 2003 as part of a national survey mandated by the United

States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie comprises these counties in northwestern Pennsylvania: Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer, Potter, Venango and Warren.


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