Follow the Money

The 2008 Annual Report of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection was release in February, 2009. The document is the sixth Annual Report compiled by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The report is meant to assess diocesan /eparchial/religious institution compliance with The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The period of report is from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008. The methodology for collecting the data for this report was to have an on site audit of one-third of the dioceses and eparchies while the remaining two-thirds would participate through data collection. The result would be that each diocese, eparchy, and Catholic sponsored religious institution would participate in a full on-site audit every three years. It is interesting to note that 7 dioceses oreparchies refused to be audited (So much for full disclosure!) It is also interesting to note that the data received from the diocese was not independently verified for each submitting diocese.  The Bishop of each respective diocese provided the information he wanted to provide with no outside auditing to determine the validity of the data.

While the data below is alarming, you must remember it has been filtered through each submitting diocese.  As we all know the church has seemed to be either reluctant or resistant to release information and much of that information has proved to be either false or incomplete in terms of the truth.

I found this report interesting for a number of reasons. First, the report shows the number of claims of sexual abuse and the number of priests that have been identified as alleged abusers. Second, it gives specific demographic data on the victims/survivors of abuse. Third, it is crucial to understand the amount to money that the church is laying out as a result of the Pedophilia Scandal in the ranks of the Church’s priests/deacons. While the church will find a way to spin this report to say it is moving forward. I think it shows that they have not seen the end of credible reports of abuse, the problem still persists and that the focus of the church is and remains to take care of their own. Bottom line, there are way too many victims and there are still many more who have not come forward. During the period of this report, 971 victims reported sexual abuse of varying types: 940 adults reported past abuse and 31 minors reported recent abuse. Identified as the abuser were 702 priests and 16 deacons.

Table 1.  Accusations reported in 2008

Total number of accused priests 702
Total number of accused deacons 16
Number of diocesan priests 516
Number of diocesan deacons 110
Number of extern priests 22
Number of unknown clerics 60
Number of deceased clerics 293
Number of laicized Clerics 64
Number of clerics removed or placed on restricted ministry 246
Number of clerics with prior allegations 339
Number of allegations that were unfounded and/or unable to be proven 79

The statistics show that the number of reports continues to increase and that new priests are being identified as predators. New perpetrator priests are coming to light who have been under the radar.

Of the reports of abuse, 51% came from the victims, 30% came from attorneys, 8% came from family members of victims, 4% came from a Bishop in another diocese, and 1% each from law enforcement or a friend of the victim. The remaining 5% include reports from medical professionals, social service personnel, diocesan victims’ assistance coordinators, and other priests. The code of silence among priests seems to be alive and well.   Sex abuse victims were 84% male, 16% female. 75% of the victims were age 14 or younger, 20% were age 15-17. The age of the remaining 5% could not be discerned from the report.  The graphic below displays allegations made during the period of the study by year when the sexual abuse occurred or began.  This shows that people like me are stilling coming forward after decades of silence.

Graph 1. Breakdown of reports made in 2008 indicating the year the abuse occurred or began


Table 2. Breakdown of credible allegations reported

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Victims 1083 777 710 689 796
Allegations 1092 783 714 691 803
Offenders 756 532 448 491 518

In the report, the dioceses reported the following outlay of Diocesan treasure as a direct cost of the allegations. Please note that the Dioceses decided what they would submit in regard to the survey and that, for the most part, there is no independent validation that these numbers are correct.

Table 3.  Costs related to allegations


The Church has paid out over $2 BILLION in costs directly resulting from the sex abuse scandal since 2004. Insurance paid out 38% of the costs associated dioceses and eparchies allegations and 19% of the religious institution allegations. The rest was borne by parishioners across the United States I wonder how much of the “Other Costs” paid out over the last 5 years went to public relations firms to try create sympathy and support for the Catholic Church (at the expense of victims) and to block legislation that would enable victims to seek some remedy for wrongs committed by predatory priests and the bishops that shielded them. To be honest I don’t think those costs have been captured in this study.

It is amazing that some $77 million was spent to care for the perpetrators while only $42 million was spent on therapy for victims. Does this seem a little lopsided to anyone else?

Seeing as these numbers were provided by the Catholic Church and not by an independent research firm with the ability to review all the transactions that bear on the church’s sex scandal, I believe the costs here, while astronomical, are not an accurate accounting. I would love to see what some good forensic accountants could do to this study. It is time to force all the dioceses, eparchies and religious institutions to open their books and clearly show all transactions related to allegations of sexual molestation, abuse, and  assault. If they do not comply, I support stripping the Catholic Dioceses of the United States of their tax free status as the appropriate sanction for non-compliance.

I am sure that the USCCB would have considered asking President Obama for a bailout if they could do so without opening up their files and subjecting themselves to the ugly light of public scrutiny. Maybe the could call it the Bishops’ Asset Recover Fund (BARF). On second thought they could call it the Diocese Estimated Value Investment Asset National Trust (DEVIANT).  I think you get my drift.

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