Bishop Accountability

Accused Priests: 8 (of which 3 are dead; of the 5 living, 3 are diocesan priests, and 2 are religious order priests)
Total Priests: 450 approximately
Victims: 30
Cost: At least $12,900 ($12,500 for one settlement; less than $4,000 in legal fees; less than $5,000 per year for counseling, varying year to year since 1969, when the diocese of Dallas-Ft. Worth was split to create two separate dioceses)

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop Joseph Delaney. 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.

Bishop's Letter

February 20, 2004

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I reported to you recently that the Bishops of the United States ordered an audit of every diocese in the country to see how well the provisions of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” were being implemented. Our Diocese received a commendation for having fulfilled those provisions, and I intend to continue to do everything possible to make our parishes, schools, and other agencies places that are safe for everyone.

The Bishops also contracted with the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, an independent secular institution, for another Study to try to find out how widespread sexual abuse in the Church has been. The purpose of this Study is to document the number of priests and deacons accused of abuse, to calculate the amount of money spent to compensate victims of abuse, and to estimate the legal fees expended in defending the Church and the clergy. The Bishops understand that while we cannot change the tragic past history, we can use the data from this Study to help us be better aware of what took place and to ensure that this abuse never happens again.

The Diocese of Fort Worth has participated in this Study. Data for our Diocese since it was founded in 1969 have been provided to the John Jay Institute. The national Study will be published at the end of February, but I want to share with you now the information that was provided to the Study on the experience of our Diocese.

Even as I make this information public as part of my responsibility of accountability to you as your Bishop, I want to be certain that we all acknowledge the faithful, Christlike service of the more than 98 percent of our priests who have not been accused of wrongdoing. Though innocent themselves, they have suffered greatly because of the reprehensible actions of a small number of other priests.

In reviewing the data, our greatest sorrow is reserved for those innocent children and teens who suffered abuse at the hands of those who should have been the most worthy of their trust. Our continued compassion and prayer are directed toward them and to the healing of this great betrayal of trust. It is to the protection of the children in our care that all our efforts are directed.

This is the information that we have provided to the national Study:

Of the approximately 450 priests who have served in our Diocese since its establishment in 1969, eight have been accused of improper sexual behavior with a minor. Of these eight, three are deceased. Of the other five, three are diocesan priests who have been removed permanently from ministry, and two are religious priests who have been removed from the Diocese and are under the direction of their religious superiors.

Thirty victims of these eight priests have reported the abuse to the Diocese and have been given our deep sympathy and apologies and offered counseling.

Since 1969, there has been one lawsuit that was settled out of court with a victim of abuse. The amount of the settlement was $12,500. Another lawsuit is pending at the present time.

The cost of counseling for victims has varied from year to year, but has remained less than $5,000 per year. This amount includes the cost of counseling for victims not only of priests, but of other church employees and volunteers. Less than $4,000 has been spent in legal fees during these years.

Since the adoption of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” at the U. S. Bishops meeting in Dallas in June of 2002, there have been two reports of sexual misconduct with a minor, one against one of the deceased priests, and the other against a priest already removed from ministry in our Diocese more than 10 years ago. (These two priests are included in the eight listed above.)

It is a source of great sorrow for all of us that there have been eight priests working in our Diocese who were found unworthy of the trust that we placed in them. I am especially saddened by the pain that the victims of this abuse have suffered. If there are other persons who have not told me of any abuse of them by a priest, deacon, or any other employee of the Church, I urge them to get into contact with me through our Victims Assistance Office.

Policies and programs to ensure a safe environment for Catholics in North Texas were developed in 1993, well before the Charter was adopted. In 2002, we contracted with Praesidium, Inc., a nationally known abuse prevention and education consulting firm, to assist the Diocese in developing a more comprehensive safe environment program. Since then more than 6,000 priests, religious and lay employees, and volunteers have been trained in methods to make our parishes and schools safe places for children and youth. You have my assurance that we will continue to do all in our power to prevent future incidents of abuse or harm to children and young people.

Sincerely in Christ,

Joseph P. Delaney
Bishop of Fort Worth

Related Links

How to report sexual misconduct

Article: Read about the 6,000 employees, volunteers and clergy who participated in abuse prevention workshops last year . . .

What is the Church doing to protect children in this diocese?

Workshops: Keeping Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults Safe

How does the diocese repsond to victims?

Texas laws for reporting child abuse

The Review Board



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