Bishop Accountability

Accused Priests: 21 (4 exonerated)
Total Priests: 1,215
Abuse Claims: 38 (from AP table)
Cost: $1.5 million
See Cathy Lynn Grossman, Survey: More Clergy Abuse Cases Than Previously Thought (2/10/04) with AP table of data for 74 dioceses.

See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop William Weigand. 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.

Abuse audit finds diocese in full compliance
Facts released about clergy sex abuse

By Julie Sly
Catholic Herald (Diocese of Sacramento)
January 10, 2004

The Diocese of Sacramento is in full compliance with the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” the document adopted in June 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address clergy sexual abuse of minors.

Diocesan officials Jan. 6 released the results of an extensive independent audit of diocesan compliance called for as part of the charter.

“I am happy about our good news,” said Bishop William K. Weigand about the audit results. “It is reassuring to me as bishop to know that our outreach to victims, our policies, and our programs all comply with the charter.”

The audit of how the diocese is addressing issues surrounding sexual abuse by clergy was conducted last summer by the Gavin Group, an outside firm based in Boston, Mass. The Gavin firm, composed primarily of former FBI agents, was charged with auditing all U.S. dioceses for nationwide diocesan compliance with the charter.

The diocese was among the first group of dioceses in the country to participate in the audit process. Nationwide results were also released by the U.S. bishops on Jan. 6.

“We believe this (audit) reflects the hard work and progress that has been underway for nearly two years in our diocese,” said Father David Deibel in a Jan. 6 statement released by diocesan officials to the media. Father Deibel, vicar episcopal for canonical affairs for the diocese, is responsible for implementing the U.S. bishops’ charter locally.

“Nobody likes to be audited, but the audit process itself was exceptionally valuable,” he said. “It made us take a hard look at what we were doing and what we needed to do. Above all, it made everyone in the diocese more aware and more sensitive when it comes to dealing with people and families affected by sexual abuse.”

From June 30 to July 4 of last year, the auditors evaluated the diocese’s policies and procedures and interviewed several people responsible for implementing the charter, including Bishop Weigand, Father Deibel, Nancy Milton (diocesan pastoral care coordinator), local prosecutors and retired state justice Robert Puglia, chair of the diocese’s Independent Review Board, which reviews complaints of sexual abuse.

In their report to Bishop Weigand, the auditors commended the diocese for “exceptional service to victims/survivors of sexual abuse.”

The audit team instructed the diocese to “formulate a policy to prevent priests from other dioceses from performing duties in the Diocese of Sacramento without approval of the bishop.”

The instruction by the auditors is partly in response to parishioner complaints about a priest who was on administrative leave from the Diocese of Phoenix who temporarily served as music director at Holy Trinity Church in El Dorado Hills last spring, according to Lynette Magnino, director of communications for the diocese.

Magnino said this was done before the diocese received notification or confirmation of the priest’s status. “Our policy now is that any requests by visiting clergy to engage in ministry or volunteer work with the diocese must be cleared and they are not allowed to function in the diocese without the specific approval of the bishop,” she said.

The audit team also recommended the diocese “establish a policy of acknowledging and responding to every complaint, and that these communications be maintained for easy retrieval.”

Diocesan officials in the Jan. 6 media statement said both the instruction and the recommendation have since been addressed. As a result of these changes, the diocese is now in “full compliance” with the charter, according to a letter from the Gavin Group to Bishop Weigand.

Auxiliary Bishop Richard J. Garcia, who heads pastoral care ministry for the diocese, noted in the media statement that “Nothing is more important than the protection of young people and reaching out to help those who have been abused.”

“We will continue working diligently to make sure we’re doing everything we can to carry out the charter and to work for, and pray for, physical, emotional and spiritual healing for everyone who has been affected,” he said.

In addition to releasing the results of the independent audit of the diocese, Bishop Weigand, in an open letter to Catholics in the diocese (see page 1) to be distributed in parishes Jan. 10-11, issued statistics on clergy sexual abuse.

The bishop reported that in the past 52 years, 17 out of 1,215 priests who have served in the diocese have been subject to unresolved allegations of sexual abuse involving minors brought against them. That figure represents 1.4 percent of the number of priests serving in the diocese from 1950 to 2002.

Bishop Weigand explained that the diocese’s data is part of a study that the U.S. bishops have commissioned by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York, to compile a nationwide statistical summary regarding allegations of clergy sexual abuse against minors received by dioceses since 1950 to the end of 2002. The national data on this survey is expected to be released in late February.

The bishop said that during the 52-year period, the diocese received complaints against 21 priests, four of whom were exonerated. He said whether or not it was legally required, the diocese reported all complaints pertaining to priests who were still alive to law enforcement, and cooperated fully in the investigations of such complaints.

Bishop Weigand said that 10 priests have been accused of sexual misconduct in the complaints. Of these, two are deceased, three fled the country years ago, one is a religious priest no longer in the diocese, and one has left the church and is a schismatic. Three are no longer in active ministry.

The bishop also said that to date, $1.5 million has been paid by the diocese in services to victims, settlements and legal fees, most of which has been covered by insurance.

In the past year (as of Dec. 31, 2003), 33 people have filed civil lawsuits against the diocese claiming childhood sexual abuse, according to James Sweeney, outside counsel for the diocese.

The suits were filed under a state law, in effect for 2003 only, which allowed childhood sexual abuse victims who were older than 26 to sue employers or responsible third parties who knowingly protected molesters. Previously, alleged victims could not sue after their 26th birthday.

Sweeney said nearly half of the lawsuits involve a single priest, Father Mario Blanco, a Salesian priest who served in the diocese from 1969 to 1973. Father Blanco was dismissed from the diocese by Bishop Alden Bell in early 1973 and left the Roman Catholic Church shortly after being dismissed to join a schismatic movement, Sweeney said. More than two decades later, the diocese settled two cases in which Father Blanco was accused of child abuse.

None of the cases against the diocese have yet been set for trial, according to Sweeney. He said the claims are in various stages of the litigation process and he expects many of them will eventually settle after they have been investigated or been resolved by the court on legal grounds. He anticipates that much of the settlement proceeds will be funded by insurance.

Some bishops release recaps of clergy sexual abuse

Catholic News Service
Reprinted in The Tidings
January 30, 2004

Summaries of clergy sexual abuse allegations in U.S. dioceses since 1950 have been released by several U.S. bishops in recent weeks.

The local data were compiled across the country in recent months as the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York conducted a national study, mandated by the bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," on the nature and scope of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy from 1950 to the end of 2002.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles will release its own statistical results from the John Jay Survey in mid-February. The survey information will include the number of reported incidents of sexual abuse by clergy from 1950-2003. The national survey results will be released Feb. 27 by the National Review Board in Washington, D.C.

Besides numbers of accused clergy and alleged victims, the study sought information on the number of alleged incidents, when they occurred, what type of abuse was claimed and the costs incurred for legal fees, settlements and treatment of the abuser and the victim.

Dioceses have been encouraged to release their local data. A number of bishops did so at the end of the year or in conjunction with the Jan. 6 release of a separate national report on compliance of dioceses with the sex abuse reporting, outreach and prevention standards set by the charter.

Many of the dioceses that have released reports say their last known incident of clerical sexual abuse of a minor dates back to 1990 or earlier. In diocese after diocese, most of the claims involve incidents from the 1960s, '70s or early '80s.

Among the archdioceses and dioceses that recently reported data were Honolulu; Springfield, Ill.; Dubuque, Iowa; Venice, Fla.; Alexandria, La.; Bismarck, N.D.; Sacramento and Orange in California; Lafayette and Gary in Indiana; and Beaumont, Austin and Dallas in Texas.

In a letter distributed in all parishes Jan. 10-11, Bishop William K. Weigand of Sacramento said that between 1950 and 2002, there were unresolved accusations against 1.4 percent, or 17 of the 1,215 priests who served there. Four other priests were accused but exonerated.

Of 38 lawsuits the diocese currently faces, nearly half involve allegations of abuse by Father Mario Blanco, a former Salesian priest who worked in the diocese from 1969 until he was dismissed in 1973 after allegations of sexual misconduct. He left the church after his dismissal, and since then he has headed congregations of a schismatic Catholic traditionalist movement.

The Diocese of Orange said that since it was formed in 1976, 16 of its 589 priests, or less than 3 percent, have been accused of sexual abuse of minors. There were 47 alleged victims.



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