Updated Report Reveals More Abuse in Colorado and Underscores the Need for Accountability within the Catholic Church
A year after their initial report into Catholic clergy abuse in Colorado, the attorney general’s office has released an updated report containing the names of even more abusers. We are grateful for the work done by the attorney general’s office and believe that it underscores the need for consistent and ongoing secular oversight into religious institutions.
According to the updated report, the new incidents of abuse bring the total number of known abusive priests in Colorado to 52 and the total number of children they abused to 212. Most disturbing is the fact that more than half of these new victims were abused after Catholic officials first learned of allegations against their perpetrators. Rather than act on those allegations, Church leaders chose to let them slide, allowing at least 100 additional children to face the lifelong scourge of sexual abuse. This damning fact shows that parents and parishioners should always report to secular law enforcement officials first before going to the Church, otherwise their allegations may be covered up and ignored.
This updated report is more proof that hotlines work, as more victims came forward after the release of the initial report to share their stories and information, representing a 20% increase from the original report. But even taking into account the information gleaned from the hotline, we know that this report does not unveil the full extent of clergy abuse in Colorado. The report does not cover those victims who only reported to Church authorities, and fails to include any information from religious orders that have operated – and abused – within Colorado borders. At least a half dozen Capuchins that lived and worked in Colorado have been identified as abusers. News reports indicate that at least 13 Jesuits with ties to abuse of minors worked and lived in Colorado. Given that there are over 100 religious orders in the United States, their combined lists of accused priests is long and certainly touches Colorado.
We also note that prolific abuser Fr. Louis Brouillard was kicked out of a seminary in Denver over his close "association" with young boys but was allowed to finish his studies in Minnesota in 1947 and then sent to Guam a year later. Fr. Brouillard abused boys in Minnesota and he is known to have abused more than 130 boys on the Island of Guam. Despite these facts, Fr. Brouillard does not appear on the Denver list.
We are glad to know that the archdiocese and dioceses within Colorado have listened to Special Master Bob Troyer and instituted the new policies and programs that he suggested in last year’s report. At the same time, new policies alone cannot protect children. What must happen in addition is the identification and punishment of any abusers who are still alive, as well as any of their enablers who ignored reports, shifted them around, and allowed more children to be hurt. Institutions do not change on their own, they must be forced to do so, and we believe that those who enabled the sexual abuse of children and the vulnerable must be identified and removed.
(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)