DIOCESE OF SAVANNAH GA
Atlanta -- A new report released by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah said that 12 children have been sexually abused by six priests over 52 years in the diocese.
The report is part of a nationwide audit by the church.
Church officials did not name any of the abusive priests, which represent less than one percent of the 685 clergymen who served in the diocese between 1950 and 2002.
The numbers were released as part of a five-part series in the diocese's newspaper that began in late November and outlined the church's response to the sexual abuse scandal.
The audit was done as part of a study commissioned by U.S. bishops that will be the first comprehensive measure of sexual abuse within the American church.
Barbara King, a spokeswoman for the Savannah diocese, said that results of the national study would be released later this month, but some bishops decided to release the results for their own dioceses ahead of time.
Some of the allegations in the Savannah diocese did not surface until recent years, after news of sexual abuse in the Catholic church rose to national attention, according to the audit.
The report said of the six clergymen accused of molesting children, three have since died, two were removed from the priesthood and one is in prison.
King said the one in prison is Wayland Brown, who was sentenced to ten years in prison last year in Maryland for sexually abusing two brothers while a student at a Washington seminary in the early 1970s.
The report said besides the six, one returned to the ministry after an internal investigation found allegations of sexual abuse to be unsupported. King declined to say whether police were involved in that investigation.
Most of the allegations were concentrated between 1961 and 1979, when ten children reportedly were molested by four priests. The most recent incident was 25 years ago.
The Diocese of Savannah has paid almost $50,000 toward medical expenses, psychological counseling and other compensation to the victims in the past 52 years, the report showed, adding that $30,000 of that was covered by insurance.
King said it's hoped that by compiling numbers on sex abuse, the church would be able to see the scope of the problem and then be better able to address it.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta, which covers the northern half of the state, has not yet released its report.
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