Reports of Sexual Abuse by US Clergy Decreasing

$21M Spent in 2010 for Child Protection

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 11, 2011 ( An annual survey and audit of U.S. dioceses found that reports of sexual abuse of minors by clergy are decreasing.

The 2010 Survey of Allegations and Costs of the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) found that there were only seven credible allegations against seven priests reported last year.

It noted in increase in reports of sexual abuse from decades ago, reporting that “the number of alleged offenders increased by a fifth, from 286 alleged offenders reported in 2009 to 345 alleged offenders reported in 2010.”

Some 66% of these allegations were from the time period 1960-1984, and almost 60% of the accused had already been identified in earlier investigations. Around 75% of the offenders are currently dead or laicized.

The survey reported that last year, dioceses and eparchies paid over $70 million in settlements to abuse victims, which amounted to a 28% increase from the previous year. Legal fees increased by 18%.

The dioceses spent an estimated $21 million for “child protection efforts such as safe environment coordinators, training programs, and background checks,” CARA noted.

Charter compliance

The survey was conducted along with the annual audit of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.

The audit, which assesses compliance with the charter, was undertaken by the Gavin Group Inc. It found that all the dioceses and eparchies that participated in the audit were compliant with the charter.

It affirmed that over 98% of clerics, employees and volunteers were trained in safe environment criteria.

As well, “over 5 million children received safe environment training.”

“Background evaluations were conducted for over 99% of clerics; 99.8% of educators; 98.5% of employees; and 99.2% of volunteers,” the auditors reported.

Nonetheless, 55 dioceses received letters from auditors expressing concerns about issues that need to be addressed in order to assure future compliance.

The Gavin Group reported: “Reasons for the management letters include parishes or schools failing to offer classes for children, new pastors or directors of religious education failing to understand diocesan requirements to train students, accepting parent training as parish training, or simply counting absent students as opt-outs.

“Several dioceses reported receiving verification from pastors that training had taken place, only to have auditors discover it was not offered.”

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