New Study Shows Hundreds of Abusive Priests are Unsupervised

A lengthy new investigation into the whereabouts and status of proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting Catholic clerics reveals that:

  • almost 1,700 of them are “largely unsupervised,”
  • more than 500 of them “live within 2,000 feet of schools, playgrounds, childcare centers or other facilities that serve children,
  • more than 160 “continued working or volunteering in churches, including dozens in Catholic dioceses overseas and some in other denominations,”
  • roughly 190 “obtained professional licenses to work in education, medicine, social work and counseling - including 76 who, as of August, still had valid credentials in those fields,”
  • 91 of them are/have been licensed to work as teachers, principals and other school personnel, 
  • a handful of the “adopted or fostered children, sponsored teens and young adults coming to the U.S. for educational opportunities, or worked with organizations that are part of the foster care system, though that number could be much higher,”

We applaud this sorely-needed investigation and believe that this is critical information that can lead to more informed – and safer – communities.

The investigation showed that nearly every US Catholic bishop continues to recklessly do the bare minimum – suspending or defrocking child molesting clerics but refusing to monitor them and adequately warn the public about them, actively putting kids at risk of terrible harm.

It also shows the need to repeal or reform archaic, predator-friendly laws like the statute of limitations, which prevents many predators from ever being prosecuted or exposed in court. The best way to safeguard children are to ensure that the people who abuse them can be criminally prosecuted and that the institutions who enabled them can be held civilly liable.

And it shows the hypocrisy of church officials who want to have their cake and eat it too -  recruiting, training, hiring, ordaining, supervising, shielding and shuffling predators but suddenly ousting them when pressured to do so, and pretending to be powerless to control their whereabouts and activities.

The AP story notes that “the heavy lift of tracking former priests has fallen to citizen watchdogs and victims, whose complaints have fueled suspensions, removals and firings.” We applaud every single person or group that is playing this crucial role and urge current and former church staff and members to step up and speak up so that children are safer.

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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