Related topics

Report: 11,000 Clergy Abuse Claims Filed

February 16, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ A draft of the upcoming national survey of sex abuse claims against Roman Catholic priests has been viewed by CNN, which reported Monday that 4,450 clergy have been accused of molesting minors since 1950.

The draft survey said 11,000 abuse claims have been filed against the U.S. churchmen during that period, CNN reported.

Robert S. Bennett, a prominent Washington attorney and member of the National Review Board, the lay watchdog panel the bishops formed to oversee the study, refused comment on the statistics CNN reported.

He emphasized that the study is not complete and no definitive numbers have been tallied. Drafts are circulating only among board members and researchers for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which is conducting the survey, he said.

No bishops have seen the John Jay study, said Bennett, who also is overseeing the board’s investigation into the causes of the clergy abuse scandal. The results of both inquiries are to be released Feb. 27.

``Both the National Review Board report and the John Jay study are still in the process of being written,″ he said. ``People should wait until then to draw their conclusion.″

Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was traveling Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment, said his spokesman, David Spotanski.

A woman who answered a phone line at John Jay’s research center would not give her name and said the college had no comment.

The bishops commissioned the unprecedented study as part of a series of reforms meant to restore trust in their leadership. The national survey won’t break down statistics by individual diocese, but some bishops are releasing local figures to fulfill their pledge of transparency.

Reporters from The Associated Press have been tracking those numbers, and have found that 84 of 195 U.S. dioceses have reported claims so far _ with 1,413 clergy accused of abuse since 1950.

That statistic is already much greater than previously estimated by victims’ groups and the media. It is not known how many priests worked in those dioceses during that time, but the number is expected to be in the tens of thousands. The dioceses have reported 2,990 abuse claims so far.

The draft survey said 78 percent of those abused were between the ages of 11 and 17, and that more than half the accused priests had a single allegation filed against them, CNN reported.

It said the report blames the sex abuse crisis on the bishops’ failure to grasp the gravity of the problem, their misguided willingness to forgive and their emphasis on avoiding scandal, among other things.

Victim advocates say the survey ultimately will underestimate the number of cases because the report is based on self-reporting by bishops.

Update hourly