Church in U.S. Gets 783 More Abuse Claims

9 Involved Minors Last Year; Most Cases Occurred Before '90s

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States last year received 783 "credible allegations" of sex abuse by clergy, most of them involving cases that are decades old.



That figure was down from the 1,092 allegations reported in 2004, reported the U.S. bishops' conference.

Among the cases reported, nine allegations, or 1%, involved children under the age of 18 in 2005.

Nearly 87% of the remaining 774 allegations involve abuse that occurred before the 1990s, with most of the abuse occurring or beginning between 1960 and 1979.

The latest figures were released as part of the third audit the U.S. bishops have conducted in the wake of the rash of abuse allegations reported in 2002.

The latest data were gathered for the one-year period from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2005, by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), at Georgetown University, and reported to the bishop's Office of Child and Youth Protection.

In November 2004, the bishops' conference commissioned CARA to conduct an annual survey of all U.S. dioceses and eparchies -- dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Church -- to collect information on new allegations of sexual abuse of minors, and the clergy against whom these allegations were made. CARA also surveyed the amount of money dioceses and eparchies have expended as a result of allegations as well as the amount they have paid for child protection efforts.

The data are reported annually as nationwide aggregate statistics in the Report of the Implementation of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People."

For 2005, a total of 184 of the 195 U.S. dioceses and eparchies completed the survey for a response rate of 94%, up from the previous year's response rate of 93%.

A total of 148 of the 221 clerical and mixed religious institutes that belong to Conference of Major Superiors of Men responded to the survey for a response rate of 67%, slightly lower than the previous year's response rate of 71%. The overall response rate was 80%.

82% out of ministry

Reporting these allegations were 777 victims. Other data show:

-- 532 clergy (463 diocesan and 69 religious institute) were accused. About 82% of these clergy were already out of ministry: 418 (including 374 diocesan clergy) are deceased, already removed from ministry, already dismissed from the clerical state, or without a known address; and another 20 (including 18 diocesan clergy) were permanently removed from ministry in 2005.

-- 57 (including 44 diocesan clergy) were temporarily removed from ministry in 2005. Twelve (all diocesan) were returned to ministry in 2005. Fourteen (including 13 diocesan clergy) identified in 2005 were still in active ministry pending investigation of an allegation. Fourteen diocesan and three religious institute clergy with an allegation prior to 2005 were also described as still active pending investigation.

Of the 532 clergy accused in 2005, over 61% had already been identified in prior allegations.

With regard to costs, for both dioceses/eparchies and religious institutes of men, they amount to the following:

-- for settlements, $399 million (compared to $106 million in 2004);

-- therapy for victims, $8.4 million (compared to $7.4 million in 2004);

-- support for offenders, $13.6 million (compared to $1.8 million in 2004);

-- attorneys fees, $41.2 million (compared to $36.2 million in 2004);

-- other costs, $4.5 million (compared to $6 million in 2004).

The total cost is $466 million (compared to $157 million in 2004).

"Other costs" include payments for items such as investigations of allegations, living costs for victims/survivors, and costs for mediation.

The amount spent for child protection efforts such as training programs and background checks in 2005 was $20 million, about the same as in 2004.

Almost half (49%) of the total allegation-related costs paid by dioceses/eparchies in 2005 was covered by diocesan insurance. About 13% of the total allegation-related costs paid by religious institutes in 2005 was covered by insurance.

The CARA data did not include information that identifies an offender or a victim.

The CARA report is Section II of the third Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People which can be found at www.usccb.org.