Report: Priest Sex Abuse Cases Continue to Decline

The U.S. Bishop’s ninth annual report on the priestly sex abuse problem has found that only a small percentage of cases reported in 2011 were current, with most dealing with allegations made about abuse that occurred decades ago.

The National Catholic Register (NCR) is reporting that according to the bishop’s annual “Report On the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” there is a marked decrease in accusations by current minors.

“Dioceses reported receiving 594 credible claims of clergy sexual abuse last year,” reports the NCR‘s Tim Drake. “Over 90% of all abuse accusations last year allege incidents from at least two decades ago — cases in which 75% of the priests who were accused are either deceased, already removed from ministry, laicized or missing.”

Only three percent of the allegations made in 2011 were by current minors. Of those reports, seven were considered credible by law enforcement, five were found to be false and another five were determined to be “boundary issues.” The remaining three cases are still under investigation.

“The number of credible accusations alleging abuse by a Catholic priest against a current minor went down,” said David Pierre, author of Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church. “In 2010, the number of such allegations was eight. In 2011, the number went down to seven.”

Not surprisingly, the mainstream media focused just on the total number of claims – without investigating the numbers – and reported that the number of cases rose from 505 in 2010 to 594 in 2011.

“To say that the accusation numbers are up doesn’t give an accurate portrayal of what’s really going on today,” Pierre told NCR. “The numbers of current abuse are very low.”

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, criticized the media for their relentless misreporting of the facts, saying they “tease out the worst possible data and highlight it. It’s outrageous, and it’s intentional.”

In reality, the headlines should read, “Abuse Problem Near Zero Among Priests,” Donohue said in a press release, or “99.98% of priests nationwide had no such accusation made against them last year. Nowhere is this being reported.”

The media also fails to report that the vast majority of priest abuse cases involve homosexuality, not pedophilia. For instance, 82 percent of the alleged victims in the 2011 report were male.

Meanwhile, the Church continues its work to prevent sexual predation within its institutions and spent nearly $74 million on settlements in 2011 – a 17 percent decrease from 2010.

“There are positives to take out of the report,” said Pierre. “What other organization puts out a report annually? It’s a testament that the Church is working aggressively on the problem in a way that no other organization is doing.”

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One Response to “Report: Priest Sex Abuse Cases Continue to Decline

  1. I am a Catholic physician. I have met many who have been sexually abused by priests. It is important to remember that many, if not most children, who have been sexually abused, do not tell anyone about it. Many suppress the memory for years. Some even commit suicide. To be sexually abused is a very shameful experience. The child might blame him or her self. Because of this shame and secrecy, we do not know how many priest sex abuse cases there really are.
    Sincerely, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, Illinois