April
04
  3:25:12 PM

Abuse figures declining in US


The impression you get from skimming the media is that the US Catholic Church is full of child molesters. This is nonsense. The latest figures show the fewest number of victims, allegations and offenders in dioceses since 2004. Most cases reported to dioceses were from decades ago.

In 2009 there were 398 allegations and 286 offenders reported to dioceses, most from earlier decades. Of the allegations reported in 2009, six allegations (2 percent) involved children under the age of 18 in 2009. About an eighth of the allegations in 2009 (48) were unsubstantiated or determined to be false by the end of the year. Most allegations cited were against pre-teen or teenage males and occurred decades ago. 

Data for the 2009 calendar year were collected by the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). It began gathering data on sexual abuse of minors by clerics in 2004 as part of the bishops’ annual report on compliance with the Charter.

 “For the majority of new allegations (71 percent) brought to dioceses, the abuse began between 1960 and 1984. The most common time period for allegations reported in 2009 was 1975-1979,” CARA noted.

The payout was enormous, but it is declining. Costs paid by dioceses for settlements, therapy for victims, support of offenders, attorney fees and other costs amounted to $104,439,629 in 2009. Of this total, 53 percent was for settlements with victims and another six percent for therapy for victims if not already included in settlements. This was an 83 percent decrease from 2008.

A letter from Diane Knight, chair of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops National Review Board, to Cardinal George noted the need for vigilance and warned against complacency.  “There will always be human beings who are attracted to children, and children will therefore always be at risk,” cautioned Ms. Knight, a social worker with more than 40 years of experience.  ~ from the USCCB press release of March 23

 
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