Bishop Accountability


Accused Priests: 20
Total Priests: 514
Alleged Victims: 20 (from AP table)
Cost: $355,000 (of which $251,000 for counseling for victims and $104,000 for attorneys defending the archdiocese against lawsuits)

See Cathy Lynn Grossman, Survey: More Clergy Abuse Cases Than Previously Thought (2/10/04) with AP table of data for 74 dioceses.

Archdiocese cites abuse by 20 priests
12 lay people also have been credibly accused since 1950

By John J. Shaughnessy
February 5, 2004

Since 1950, 20 priests and 12 lay people serving the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors, according to a report made public Wednesday.

Issued by Archbishop Daniel Buechlein, the report notes that the 20 archdiocesan priests involved have either died, resigned or been removed from the priesthood. The 12 lay people either have resigned or been fired, including a lay volunteer who was dismissed because of a sexual misconduct charge in 2002.

"Our records show that no minor has been abused by a priest in the past 10 years," Buechlein said.

The report was mailed Tuesday to the nearly 80,000 Catholic households in the archdiocese.

The report did not name the priests or lay people. It also didn't say how many children were abused.

"We're not releasing that information," Susan Borcherts, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "We're unable to comment on the number of victims because the archdiocese is involved in litigation."

Asked whether the allegations were reported to law enforcement, Borcherts said: "We've followed Indiana law and reported it to the authorities."

Five lawsuits involving sexual misconduct by priests are pending.

The archdiocese has spent about $355,000 for sexual abuse-related expenses since 1950, Buechlein said.

About $251,000 of that amount has been spent for counseling for victims; $104,000 has been paid to attorneys defending the archdiocese against lawsuits, he said. The money came from the archdiocese's general operating funds.

Buechlein also noted that the 20 priests represented 3.89 percent of the 514 priests who have served the archdiocese since 1950.

The archdiocese prepared its report in advance of a national study that will include statistics about clergy abuse from 1950 to 2002. Commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the national study is scheduled to be released Feb. 27.

The archdiocese is the last of the five dioceses in Indiana to announce its findings. Altogether, the dioceses reported credible allegations of abuse against 61 priests and 12 lay people.

The abuse scandal has led to the resignations or suspensions of more than 300 priests and at least six bishops in the United States.

Buechlein was out of town and unavailable for comment Wednesday, Borcherts said. But he addressed the report and the scandal in his weekly column that will appear in Friday's edition of "The Criterion," the weekly archdiocesan newspaper.

"It is painful but necessary to acknowledge this sin among us," the archbishop writes. "We would never have thought the problem of sexual abuse among clergy would be as significant as we have learned in the last few years.

"A single case of abuse would be unacceptable and scandalous. Clearly, clergy and other pastoral leaders of the church should be held to a higher standard -- and we are."

In his column and the report, Buechlein apologized -- first to the victims, then to "all of you who are hurt and angry about this tragic scandal that embarrassed our church and clergy."

Reaction among local Catholic lay leaders was mixed.

"I do wonder if all the priests and lay people employed by the church who have had accusations brought against them have been included in the report," said Jay Carrigan, the co-chair of Voice of the Faithful Indianapolis, part of a national church-reform group.

"The very existence of the problem strikes at the credibility and faithfulness of members of the church," said Mark Perez, a member of the orthodox group Catholics Allied for the Faith. "But the fact that there have been no reports of abuse by priests in the past 10 years shows it is a ship headed in the right direction."

In the report, the archbishop notes that regular criminal background checks are now required of the archdiocese's clergy, lay employees and volunteers.


Report distributed

The archdiocese's report was mailed Tuesday to nearly 80,000 Catholic households.

The report also will be distributed this week to parents of non-Catholic students in the archdiocese's 72 Catholic schools.

To receive a copy, call the archdiocese at (317) 236-1585.

The diocesan reports

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend announced Dec. 11 that 16 priests had sexually abused 33 children since 1950.

The Diocese of Evansville announced Dec. 18 that 15 priests had been accused of sexually abusing 22 minors over a 60-year period. Allegations against three of the priests were found to be not credible by the diocese.

The Diocese of Lafayette announced Dec. 31 that 18 priests had been accused of sexually abusing 26 minors since 1950. Accusations against 11 of the priests were deemed credible.

The Diocese of Gary announced on Jan. 2 that multiple allegations against two priests were deemed credible among 13 allegations against six priests and a nun since 1957.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis announced Wednesday that 20 priests and 12 lay people had been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors since 1950.



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