The Colorado Attorney General’s office released a special report today saying more than 160 children were abused by 43 Catholic priests in the last 70 years.The report blasts the church for cover-ups and poor record-keeping.
Read the report here.
More than half of the cases happened after the state’s dioceses knew the priests were abusers. It took the dioceses 19 years on average to restrict a priest’s authority after receiving an allegation that he had sexually abused children. The report states that 7 priests never faced any restrictions. It also found that two-thirds of the children were abused by 5 priests, and the most cases occurred in the 1960s and 70s.
The report took eight months to complete and was authored and investigated by former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. It is the most detailed account yet of clergy sex abuse in the state. The report says the church’s poor reporting and suppression of allegations created a culture that was dangerous for children. Although the report found no cases of abuse after 1998, Troyer said it’s impossible to know whether abuse is still happening because the dioceses’ records were flawed and incomplete.
The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado released a response, saying they are dismayed by the report. Executive Director Rev. Amanda Henderson said it was not surprising, given the number of clergy sex abuse reports from around the country and world. She called for the Roman Catholic Church to take full responsibility for causing so much pain to make way for healing to begin for the victims and for the church to pursue reconciliation.
Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila responded in a video, formally apologizing to the victims and urging them to come talk to him personally. Troyer said the archdioceses’ conduct review team is traumatizing for victims, since they are required to sit in a room decorated with Catholic art and recount their abuse to a room full of strangers, including an attorney tasked with defending the archdiocese. He recommended the church create an independent agency to investigate abuse, implement an electronic record-keeping system and improve personnel training for victim assistance. Aquila agreed to all of the recommendations made by Troyer.
Earlier this year, the Attorney General launched an independent reparations program that allows child abuse victims to apply for claims.
That program started to accept applications in early October. The deadline for registrations of any new allegations is November 30, 2019. The administrators will review them and send claim forms to those potentially eligible. The deadline for filing all claims with the program is January 31, 2020.