View Full Version : Religion Catholic abuse claims increase (2.6 billion in total payments?!?)

Pitt Gorilla
03-18-2009, 11:48 PM

By Associated Press, Journal Sentinel staff

Posted: Mar. 13, 2009

New York - Roman Catholic dioceses and religious orders recorded a rise in molestation claims against clergy last year, according to a report that U.S. bishops released Friday. Nearly all the 803 cases involved adults who said they had been abused as children decades ago.

Church leaders paid 29% less in settlements, attorney fees and other abuse-related costs in 2008 than in 2007. Still, the amount reached just more than $436 million, bringing the total payouts for abuse to more than $2.6 billion since 1950, according to studies that the prelates commissioned.

The statistics are part of an annual review of child safety in dioceses and religious orders that is mandated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Auditors found that all but one of the dioceses evaluated had fully implemented the bishops' child protection policies last year.

The safeguards include background checks for employees and volunteers, safe-environment training for children and a discipline plan for offenders that removes them from any public church work. Dioceses increased their spending on safety programs to $23 million in 2008.

The noncompliant diocese was Tulsa, Okla., which had not completed training for children.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese and Green Bay Diocese were among 17 that participated in parish interviews as part of the audit.

The study did not break out claims or costs by states, and efforts to obtain those figures from Wisconsin officials were only partly successful Friday.

Of those that responded:

 The Milwaukee Archdiocese spent $1.6 million, after insurance, on clergy sex abuse costs during the fiscal year that ended June 30, for a total of $26.6 million overall, according to its 2008 accountability statement. Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for the archdiocese, referred questions about costs to the report and could not provide claim numbers Friday.

 The Superior Diocese said it had no claims or settlement payments during 2008. It paid $61,000 in safe-environment costs, down from $87,500 in 2007, and more than $788,000 on all abuse costs since 2002, more than half covered by insurance.

 The Green Bay Diocese received four allegations of abuse involving minors in 2007 and 2008, all for incidents from 1950 to 1975. Although the diocese said it paid no settlement from 2004 to 2008, it spent $808,000 on abuse-related costs, including legal fees and safe-environment training, during that time.

Despite high marks overall nationwide, auditors found some failings.

Investigators said they could not easily find contact information for the lay review boards in some regions. The panels are supposed to help bishops respond to abuse claims.

The auditors also urged many church administrators to increase contact with police and other outside authorities when evaluating cases.

"Unfortunately, many dioceses are conducting the investigations themselves without also making a report to civil authorities," the researchers said. Advocates repeatedly have encouraged victims to make their first report to police, not the church.

Teresa Kettelkamp, a former Illinois state police officer who leads the bishops' child protection office, said the problems occur mostly with what are considered "boundary violations." That could include giving gifts to a child or being alone with a young person, a breach of the dioceses' code of conduct and that could signal a predator is grooming a child.

Kettelkamp said some dioceses were reluctant to notify busy police departments about these violations, but she tells church administrators to contact police anyway.

The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., as it has in previous years, refused to participate in the audit. Lincoln Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, a Milwaukee native and pastor at St. Bernard Church in Wauwatosa from 1980 to 1992, has said the evaluation wouldn't "place into context" the large number of priests who were not abusive.

Bishop Robert Vasa of the Diocese of Baker, Ore., also refused, saying the diocese will not conduct safe-environment training for children.

Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

03-19-2009, 07:55 AM
And these people are supposed to be "closer to God"? This is just sickening. SICKENING I SAY!