Sex "Pay Offs" by Catholic Church

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Report Confirms
Priest Sex Abuse UP!

Church Payoffs Down
How Do Catholic Priests Continue to Sexually Abuse Chidlren?

It was 2009 And Sex Abuse Was Up - But Payouts Were Down! - But has it changed in the last 3 years?

Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders saw a rise in molestation claims against clergy a few years ago, according to a report released then by the U.S. bishops. Nearly all the 803 cases involved adults who said they had been abused as children decades ago.

Church leaders paid less in settlements, attorney fees and other abuse-related costs the year before. Still, the amount reached just over $436 million, bringing the total payouts for abuse to more than $2.6 billion since 1950, according to . . .

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. . . studies commissioned by the prelates.

The statistics are part of an annual review of child safety in American dioceses and religious orders that is mandated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

As part of the study, auditors found that all but one of the dioceses they evaluated had fully implemented the bishops' child protection policies by the end of the year.

The safeguards include background checks for employees and volunteers, safe environment training for children and a discipline plan for offenders that removes them from any public church work. Dioceses increased their spending on safety programs to $23 million in 2008.

The noncompliant diocese was Tulsa, Okla., which had not completed training for children.

Despite the high marks, auditors did find some failings.

Investigators said they could not easily find contact information for the lay review boards in some regions. The panels are supposed to help bishops respond to abuse claims.

The auditors also urged many church administrators to increase contact with police and other outside authorities when evaluating cases.

"Unfortunately, many dioceses are conducting the investigations themselves without also making a report to civil authorities," the researchers said. Advocates have repeatedly encouraged victims to make their first report to police, not the church.

Teresa Kettelkamp, a former Illinois state police officer who leads the bishops' child protection office, said the problem occurs mostly with what are considered "boundary violations." That could include giving gifts to a child or being alone with a young person, a breach of the dioceses' code of conduct and that could signal a predator is grooming a child.

Kettelkamp said some dioceses are reluctant to notify busy police departments about these violations, but she tells church administrators to contact police anyway.

"That's where the relationship between the diocese and civil authorities needs to be worked out ahead of time," she said. "The threshold I use is if your relationship with civil authorities isn't such that you have a name you can call 24-7, then you need to develop a relationship with someone."

The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., as it has in previous years, refused to participate in the audit. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz has said the evaluation wouldn't "place into context" the large number of priests who were not abusive. Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker, Ore., also refused, saying the diocese will not conduct safe environment training for children.

Separately, five eparchies, or regional districts for parishes that follow the Eastern rite, also refused the review.

The reports from the bishops are part of the reforms they enacted in 2002, at the height of the scandal, which began with the case of one predatory priest in the Archdiocese of Boston and spread throughout the U.S. and beyond. Thousands of clergy have been accused since 1950.

The number of abuse claims in 2008 increased by 16 percent over 2007, when 691 claims were made. Similar to past years, more than 80 percent of the clergy accused in 2008 are dead, missing or already out of public ministry or the priesthood altogether. However, 40 percent of those accused last year had never been named in previous abuse cases.

Following a pattern that researchers discovered in previous studies, most of the people who came forward last year were men and more than half said they were between the ages of 10 and 14 when they were molested. Only 30 percent of the new claims came through attorneys.

Auditors conducted onsite evaluations in one-third of the dioceses, while the rest compiled data that was evaluated offsite. The bishops are rotating which dioceses receive an onsite review, so that each diocese is visited every three years.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said condemned the evaluation for focusing only on guilty priests, and not looking at the role of the individual bishops overseeing them. David Clohessy, national director of the group, said he was not surprised by the rise in claims.

"It's proof that victims come forward only when they're able," he said.


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