Colorado Report Shows Need for Further Investigation into Clergy Abuse

An in-depth report from the Denver Post has reinforced findings from an earlier AP report that large numbers of accused child abusers are alive and remain dangerous in whichever communities they live. We call on Catholic officials throughout Colorado to take steps to warn communities where these dangerous men live and work, so that children and the vulnerable are protected and so that parents, parishioners, and the public are better informed.

According to the Attorney General's report on Catholic abusers; at least 43 diocesan priests in Colorado have been accused of abuse. While any number is too high, this figure does not include clergymen from religious orders – who were not covered in the scope of the Special Master’s report – so this count is more likely incredibly low.

Of those 22 diocesan priests, at least 11 are alive. Their diaspora has included Ecuador, Florida, other Catholic dioceses, other religions and other communities in Colorado. They have new jobs as priests, therapists and in other related professions that keep them in touch with children. Several have spent time in prison. Each is a dangerous man, and representatives of the three Colorado dioceses say they do not actively track the location andactivities of the clerics named in the report. As clergymen changed their location or left the Church, they faded from the dioceses' radar.

The Catholic Church trained, employed, housed, and likely covered up sexual abuse by most of these men. SNAP believes the prelates have a corresponding obligation to assist law enforcement and community groups in monitoring them. We urge Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and his brother bishops in Colorado to create a monitoring program that is coordinated with local law enforcement. Each dioceses’ list of abusers should act as a registry that is updated periodically to reflect the moves and whereabouts of those listed. If the Denver Post can find so easily find these perpetrators, then Church officials, with their vast network and wealth, can as well. 

We also reiterate our call that all of the religious orders that worked within each of the three Colorado Dioceses be investigated by the Attorney General as well. At least nine Capuchins with ties to abuse lived and worked in Colorado. News reports also indicate that 13 Jesuits with ties to abuse of minors did as well.

Given that there are over 100 religious orders in the United States, the combined list of accused priests will be long and will certainly include more Colorado clergy. Rather than take piecemeal steps towards transparency, Catholic officials should throw back the curtain in Colorado and urge A.G. Phil Weiser to investigate the religious orders too.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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