SNAP is encouraged by the clergy abuse investigation in Wisconsin

We applaud the work done so far by the Office of Attorney General Josh Kaul. The investigation of clergy sexual abuse in Wisconsin was launched in April 2021. An interim report was issued yesterday by AG Kaul which revealed nearly 180 reports of abuse by leaders from multiple religious organizations and faith traditions. The agency also noted that it received reports from every Roman Catholic diocese in Wisconsin and that those who filed reports were between 18 and 75 years of age.

We are particularly encouraged to read that accusations of clergy sexual abuse were fielded by the AG's office from victims who are still minors. While the average age for a survivor to come forward is 52 when outcries are made by children and young adults, there is a greater chance for criminal prosecution of the perpetrators, and perhaps even of those who hid and enabled these criminals.

To us, this is wonderful progress, and we look forward to the continued work of the AG's office and the final results of this investigation. The interim report revealed that all Catholic dioceses are still struggling to deal with the abuse scandal and that hundreds of victims have utilized the hotline. Watchdog group Bishop-Accountability has already documented 199 Catholic abusers statewide in Wisconsin.

Our hope is that AG Kaul ultimately issues a report much like that of the Pennsylvania six diocese grand jury report from 2018. If so, we would expect an avalanche of additional reports to follow. The Wisconsin investigation is still very much in its infancy. The PA grand jury took nearly two years, and investigators thoroughly and thoughtfully culled through victim testimony to build a report that exposed what advocates already knew; that there are many hidden predators and thousands of still-silent victims.

We would expect to see between 50 and 100 new names, and likely more if the AG includes Catholic staffers or volunteers, religious brothers, and nuns. So far in every secular investigation, 15% to 25% of abusers fall into that category. This will lead to sorely needed information that will better protect children and help survivors heal.

Secular investigations are the only way to uncover the abuses that have been going on unabated for decades. No one knew more about these crimes and no one has done less than the dioceses and religious institutions themselves.

SNAP has always been committed to helping survivors seek justice, and we encourage any victim who needs support to reach out to us.

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