10,000 Children Abused
Shock Report Hits Priests
MORE than 10,000 children
were sexually abused by
predatory Catholic priests in
the US during the past half-
century in what the church
itself has described as "a terrible history".
A study commissioned by
American Catholic bishops shows
one in ten priests in the ordination
class of 1970 was a deviant and
overall 4392 of the 109,694 priests
serving between 1950 and 2002 were
accused of sexual abuse.
The shocking statistics were contained in a report prepared by the
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
based on survey results from 97 per
cent of America's 196 Catholic dioceses.
Of the 10,667 youngsters abused
during the 52 years the survey
covered, 81 per cent were male and
most were aged between 11 and 17.
A smaller proportion - 16 per cent
- were aged eight to 10.
More than half of the reported
incidents were serious offences involving sex or attempted sex acts.
A group of prominent lay Catholics appointed by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 to
review the church's efforts to curtail
sex abuse, described the situation
as "a crisis of trust and faith" in a
related report released yesterday.
The National Review Board's
145-page report said the "grievously
sinful" acts of priests and "shameful" inaction during the decades of
abuse had left the church "deeply
And as a consequence, "its ability
to speak clearly and credibly on
moral issues has been seriously impaired", said the Board, which interviewed more than 85 people -
including Vatican officials.
The John Jay figures show while
56 per cent of accused priests had
one accusation levelled against
them, 149 priests were the subject
of 10 or more complaints and responsible for abusing 2960 of the
Just 14 per cent of the accused
priests were reported to police by
their bishops and 95 per cent of the
4392 errant clerics were never
charged with a crime.
The same study also listed the
enormous financial burden the sex
abuse scandal has placed upon the
Catholic church in the US, with
victim compensation payouts, legal
fees and psychological and
counselling services for accused
priests totaling more than $740m.
In releasing the two reports yesterday, the president of the US
Conference of Catholic Bishops,
Wilton Gregory, apologised to victims and claimed sex abusers had
been weeded out from the clergy.
"The terrible history recorded
here today is history," he said.
The president of victims rights
advocacy group Survivors Network
of Those Abused by Priests
(SNAP), Barbara Blaine, said the
figure of 10,667 victims was low.
"We know that normally, a perpetrator abuses up to 150 victims
in a lifetime and, in the general
population, only five to ten per cent
of sex abuse victims come forward,"
said Ms Blaine.
Adelaide Advertiser (29-2-2004)