Bishop Accountability


Accused Priests: 41 (of which allegations against 6 were determined to be "unfounded")
Total Priests: 1,050 (includes diocesan, extern, and religious order priests)
Victims: 86
Cost: $2,600,000 (of which $1,350,000 in settlements, and $1,250,000 for victim's assistance and counseling; these numbers are for 1976-2002, because "for the period prior to 1976, no records are available regarding diocesan monies, if any, spent in connection with claims of sexual abuse of minors.")

See Bishop Emeritus Gerry's letter, and the Maine Attorney General’s Report on sexual abuse in the diocese.

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop Emeritus Joseph Gerry. 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.

Gerry issues statistics on abuse cases

By Gregory D. Kesich
Portland Press Herald
February 13, 2004

Bishop Joseph Gerry has released statistics about sexual abuse by priests in Maine in a letter mailed to 82,000 homes around the state.

The numbers of abusers and victims, Gerry wrote, are "most disheartening."

But a full accounting, the bishop said, "will help shape solutions to the sexual abuse problem in our Church, and may also serve as a guide for addressing this problem in society."

The statistics were compiled as part of a national survey of the abuse scandal, commissioned by the nation's bishops and conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The bishops hope to restore trust in their leadership by opening themselves to greater scrutiny. The national report is due out Feb. 27.

An Associated Press review of reports already released showed that more than 1,300 clergy members have been accused of molesting minors. But more than half of the nation's 191 dioceses had yet to report.

According to Gerry's letter, mailed this month, allegations of sexual abuse were made against 41 priests in Maine between 1950 and 2002. Allegations against six were determined to be unfounded. Allegations against the other 35 were either true or could not be determined.

Of those priests, 15 are dead, 12 perform no ministry, seven have left the priesthood and one is "unidentified."

A total of 86 victims reported abuse during the 52-year period, the letters says. Since 1976, the church has paid $1.4 million in settlements and $1.3 million for victim's assistance and counseling.

Gerry reported that there were 1,050 priests in Maine during the 52-year period of the study. The number includes priests from religious orders and priests from other dioceses who were assigned to Maine, as well as diocesan priests.

The letter comes in Gerry's last days as the leader of Maine's Roman Catholics. He announced his resignation last year on his 75th birthday, in keeping with Catholic tradition. His replacement, Bishop Richard J. Malone, was named by the pope this week and will take Gerry's place on March 31.

In his letter, Gerry apologized to the abuse victims.

"I am profoundly sorry for the abuse you endured and the pain that lives on," Gerry wrote. "I realize no words can heal the anguish or restore the loss you experience. While no one can undo what happened to you, I pledge that the diocese will listen with sensitivity and provide emotional support for you in your recovery."

In 2002, Gerry gave 75 years of records associated with sexual abuse allegations to state prosecutors. At the time, Cumberland County District Attorney Stephanie Anderson said they involved 51 priests, including 33 who are still living.

Gerry's spokeswoman Sue Bernard said the bishop has never confirmed the accuracy of those statistics, but said a discrepancy could be expected because the two surveys looked at different time periods.

Gerry said the last known case of sexual abuse of a minor was in 1989.

That date does not cover some allegations against the Rev. Raymond Melville. Melville was personally ordered to pay $500,000 to a Kennebec County man who said he was abused by the priest over a seven-year period beginning in 1985, when he was 13.

Although the victim said his abuse continued until 1992, Bernard said Gerry's letter excluded the allegations of abuse that took place after the man turned 18.

The bishop's letter was met with skepticism by church critics, who question the way the statistics were compiled.

"It's all self-reporting. If the IRS conducted an audit like this, it would be a joke," said Paul Kendrick, co-founder of Maine's Voice of the Faithful chapter, a church reform group.

Kendrick said the numbers alone tell little, and he renewed his call for the bishop to release more information about the allegations and details of how the complaints were handled by the diocese.

In his letter, Gerry also apologized to Catholics who were not directly affected by abuse, but who suffered "embarrassment, shame and bitter disappointment" because of the actions of the abusive clergymen. "I'm sorry you had to endure this pain."

He also asked people to pray for the victims, and the offenders. "Healing prayer," he said, "is essential for both."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff Writer Gregory D. Kesich can be contacted at 791-6336 or at:

Bishop Joseph’s statements on John Jay Study
and Attorney General’s Report of child abuse by clergy

John Jay Report

“The information in the John Jay Report was sobering, shameful, but ultimately necessary in order to determine if the Church is taking effective steps to stop the abuse of children in the future. The Bishops called for and cooperated with this factual and impartial report in order to understand the magnitude of the problem. I am overwhelmed by the information and sorrowful over the pain and suffering it represents.

We are committed and determined to work and learn from this information to assure the crimes of the past are not repeated in the future.”

Attorney General’s Report

“I have reviewed the Attorney General’s report on its investigation of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the Diocese of Portland. The investigation was thorough and the results impartial.

The Diocese voluntarily turned over its files dating back 75 years with the understanding that the information would be used to pursue any possible prosecution of individuals or Diocesan administrators.

“The Attorney General found the last substantiated report of child sexual abuse by a priest occurred in 1989. Authorities also found there was one instance of an offending priest who was reassigned with restrictions, then re-offended against minors; that reassignment took place in 1958 and the Church learned of the subsequent abuse after his death.

On behalf of the Church, I apologize to the victims for their immeasurable suffering and for the six reassignments of the past. Clearly, different decisions would be made today based on what we have learned about child abuse.

I understand it’s difficult, but if there are other victims who have not yet reported, I implore you to contact civil and Church authorities since timely reporting is the only way to pursue justice in the civil arena. Justice within the Church will take place regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. That justice includes removal of the offending priest from ministry and counseling for the victims.”

Bishop Joseph J. Gerry, OSB




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