In U.S., The Catholic Church Spent $281,611,817 On Child Sex Abuse Cases In 2019

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Sarah Shaiman

The number of allegations almost quadrupled from the 2018 fiscal year.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ yearly audit, the church paid out over a quarter billion dollars in damages related to allegations of sex-abuse in the church over a period of about one year. 

Dioceses and eparchies that responded to the survey and reported costs related to allegations paid out $281,611,817 between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019. This includes payments for allegations reported in previous years. Thirty-five responding dioceses and eparchies reported no expenditures during this time period related to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. 

According to a Washington Post report, the quadrupling of cases occurred as a result of new compensation programs for survivors, motivating more survivors to come forward with allegations.

  • The report counted 4,434 allegations of clergy sexual abuse against minors, jumping from 1,451 in 2018; 693 in 2017; 1,318 in 2016; and 903 in 2015. 
  • About half of the allegations were deemed credible by the church. 
  • Thirty seven of the reports came from people who are currently minors, suggesting that sexual abuse in the church is not an artifact of a dark past. The church deemed eight of the claims substantiated. 
  • The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate found 57 percent of credible allegations leveled in 2019 occurred before 1975, 41 percent between 1976 and 1999, and 2 percent from 2000 onward. 
  • Though some level of abuse is still occurring in the church, chair of the Catholic Church’s National Review Board Francesco C. Cesareo commented, “I think the data is out there to show that the Church has been the one institution that has really taken an institutional approach to this and put in place policies and protocols that have resulted in a much safer environment within the Church.”
  • However, SNAP, a clergy abuse survivors organization, noted, “Church officials pretend they’re reporting on a past problem when in fact thousands of proven, admitted and credibly accused clerics who have committed or concealed child sex crimes remain ‘under the radar,’ living and working among unsuspecting neighbors, friends, co-workers and even relatives.”

However, laws liberalizing the statute of limitations for these survivors have caused a significant uptick in allegations. 

Read the USCCB report here.

Read the full WaPo report here. 

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