I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a victim tell me that this is what her local Catholic officials have said about her report of child sexual assault.
(The latest such case involves Fr. Michael Keating of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese. In 2006, a young victim disclosed to church officials that Fr. Keating molested her. Archdiocesan staff kept quiet, however, and deemed he report “unsubstantiated.” So they kept the predator on the job for nine more years. He’s stepped aside, now that he’s being sued.)
What a “Catch 22.” Catholic officials keep abuse reports silent. Then, they claim they can’t “substantiate” them. Then, he predator stays in ministry, usually for years, until a second, third, or fourth victim steps forward – often filing criminal charges or civil litigation. And suffering that could and should have been prevented has happened to more innocent boys or girls.
Here in St. Louis, we have a priest who has been accused of molesting three boys, none of whom know one another, over decades. Archdiocesan officials have found all three “unsubstantiated.”
And the priest, Fr. Alex Anderson, is still on the job now, more than a decade after the victims spoke up. (Full disclosure: the archdiocese did pay one of them $23,000 but they refuse to call it a settlement.)
If Catholic officials honored their own abuse policies and lived up to their own promises, they would disclose child sex abuse allegations. Others who could confirm those allegations would likely step forward. Then the accused might be “substantiated” and other kids might be spared horrific pain.
But don’t hold your breath.