Unsupervised accused priests teach, counsel, adopt children

Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found.

These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centers. They foster and care for children.

And in their time since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP’s analysis found.

A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.

Each diocese determines its own standard to deem a priest credibly accused, with the allegations ranging from inappropriate conversations and unwanted hugging to forced sodomy and rape.

Dioceses and religious orders so far have shared the names of more than 5,100 clergy members, with more than three-quarters of the names released just in the last year. The AP researched the nearly 2,000 who remain alive to determine where they have lived and worked _ the largest-scale review to date of what happened to priests named as possible sexual abusers.

In addition to the almost 1,700 that the AP was able to identify as largely unsupervised, there were 76 people who could not be located. The remaining clergy members were found to be under some kind of supervision, with some in prison or overseen by church programs.

The review found hundreds of priests held positions of trust, many with access to children. More than 160 continued working or volunteering in churches, includi...

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Showing 3 comments

  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-10-22 18:10:09 -0500
    For Mee Two,

    In the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, PA. Many bishops and clergy covered up these crimes; and so did persons from the justice and enforcement systems. This Diocese initiated a compensation fund in 1999 to buy silence from survivor/victims. I suspect it is the 1st and earliest to do so in the US.

    Richard G Kensinger, MSW
  • Daniel "Buddy" Robson
    commented 2019-10-22 11:32:53 -0500
    A former priest, Timothy Slevin, from the Archdiocese of Washington (DC) who had a long history of abusing minors was finally caught and convicted in 1986 and was sent to prison. However, a search of a national database of sex offenders fails to locate him. What special considerations was he given? How can someone with his history escape scrutiny?
  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-10-05 13:29:30 -0500
    Read this narrative in today’s Altoona Mirror. I know 4 adult males who were repeated sexually abused. They never told anyone for a combination of reasons. Two were abused at an orphanage located in Ebensberg. It is now closed.

    Clearly, the Church continues to avoid legal/criminal liability. The Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, PA, initiated a compensation fund in 1999! As per their report, it has paid out $21M. They did this to buy silence!

    To me the Church is defiled beyond redemption; and ,therefore, should be shuttered!
    Rich, MSW

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