Bishop Reilly issues report on Worcester sex
Priests' names not given
Martin Luttrell - T&G STAFF
February 16, 2004
The Diocese of Worcester released its first report on the
scope of clergy sexual abuse of children yesterday, citing
112 allegations of abuse from 1950 through 2003.
While the diocese found that only 48 were substantiated and
another 31 allegations were considered credible, an activist
who works with victims of clergy sexual abuse said the numbers
are higher than she had thought.
"What's new is that this is the first time we've pulled
the numbers together and put them in one report," said
diocese spokesman Raymond L. Delisle. "Previously, we
had done this one at a time. We were doing this as part of
a national study. We put it together and wanted to share that."
Bishop Daniel P. Reilly shared the text of the pastoral report
yesterday with parishioners during Mass at St. Paul's Cathedral,
which was videotaped and broadcast in the evening on WCTR-TV,
According to the diocese report, $2,280,833 has been paid
in compensation to victims in settlements of abuses between
1950 and 2003. Of that, $1,469,000 came from insurance and
$811,833 was paid directly by the diocese.
An additional $185,879 was spent for victim counseling, services
and therapy, the report states.
In the report, Bishop Reilly emphasizes that "the source
of funds for any settlement, therapeutic response or legal
fees was the Bishop's discretionary funds. ... No donations
to the Bishop's Fund, or parish contributions to the diocese
known as the cathedraticum, or gifts to the Forward in Faith
capital campaign were used for anything other than their designated
The bishop's discretionary funds come from a variety of nondesignated
sources, including bequests, specific donations for the bishop's
use, earnings on undesignated funds and/or operational gains
from past years, the report says.
Mary T. Jean of Leominster, leader of Worcester Voice, an
organization that works with victims, said the report shows
the scope of the problem to be worse than she anticipated.
She said those priests who have been removed from the ministry
should be identified and required to register as sex offenders.
"Obviously, it illustrates that the situation is even
worse than we had anticipated," she said. "We had
originally disclosed 33 names. But I think that's true of
other dioceses, that they're showing higher numbers.
"People are very concerned, especially with the sex registry.
These people are living in the community. In the current climate,
it's a very topical issue. Parents are fearful. We don't know
who they are."
Mr. Delisle said he is not aware of any plan to make public
the names of priests, either accused or removed from the ministry.
In a finding similar to that in a report released last month
by District Attorney John J. Conte, the diocese showed that
the instances of alleged abuse peaked between 1975 and 1979,
and that most victims did not report them - either to the
church or to civil authorities - for an average of 20 years.
The report also drew a distinction between pedophile abusers,
or those who abused prepubescent children, and "ephebophile"
abusers, who abused teen-age boys. Of the 45 priests against
whom allegations of abuse were made, 80 percent would be considered
ephebophiles, the report continued.
"By presenting this report to you, I hope to promote
healing for those who have been abused while remaining cognizant
of the rights of those who have been accused but face no process
to defend themselves," the bishop wrote. "This applies,
in particular, to those who died before any such allegations
were brought to light.
"We will continue to do all we can to promote healing
for those who bring to us substantive allegations of abuse,
and put in place additional protections for the safety of
children and young people in our care.
"We must also respect the civil rights due to every American
citizen as well as the canonical rights of those who face
allegations well past the statute of limitations. ..."
Mr. Conte's report showed that 86 priests, brothers and sisters
of religious orders, and ordained ministers, and three lay
persons, have been named as suspects by victims.
Of these, 37 suspects are living priests attached to the Diocese
of Worcester, and one lay person, also connected to the Diocese
of Worcester; 20 suspects are deceased priests attached to
the Diocese of Worcester, and one lay person connected to
the diocese is also deceased.
"The nature and scope (of the studies) were different,"
Mr. Delisle said. "The district attorney looked at child
abuse as well as adult. Ours is just on minors. It's a narrower
He said that the diocese will continue carrying out reforms
put in place by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in
responding to the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
"For us, it's been the focus of the charter, young adults,
where everyone's focus has been," Mr. Delsisle said.
"It'll continue with the steps laid out over the last
two years. Safe environment training for the children. That
remains paramount, as he put in the report. There's still
ongoing dialogue with the victims, ongoing therapeutic support
for victims. We will be able to work with victims who come
forward in the future."