Draft survey reveals 4,450 U.S. priests accused of sex abuse between 1950 and 2002

A draft survey on sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy found that more than 11,000 allegations were made against 4,450 priests, or about 4 percent of the clergy, who served in the United States between 1950 and 2002, reported CNN yesterday.

This unprecedented survey, to be released Feb. 27, was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and commissioned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in order to better understand the scope of abuse in the Church.

Since no other profession or organization has ever conducted such a comprehensive study on the scope and nature of sexual abuse of minors, the Catholic League emphasized in a recent report the need to place these survey results in proper perspective.

Based on its own research, the league document pointed out that most abuse is committed by family members. It also included some data about the incidence of abuse in Christian denominations and professions, such as teaching and coaching. For more on this study, go to: http://www.catholicleague.com/research/abuse_in_social_context.htm

In an analysis of the draft survey released yesterday, CNN found that more than half of the accused priests had one allegation against them. About 25 percent, or 1,112 priests, had two or three allegations, and almost 13 percent, or 578 priests, had four to nine allegations. About 3 percent, or 133 priests, had 10 or more allegations.

CNN reported that 6,700 allegations were investigated and substantiated, and another 1,000 were unsubstantiated. The remaining 3,300 were not investigated because the accused priests had died before allegations were made.

According to the survey, most of the victims of abuse were teens – 78 percent were between the ages of 11 and 17. About 16 percent were between eight and 10 years old; and about six percent were 7 or younger.

CNN also reported that the survey cites several factors that contributed to the problem, namely failure to grasp its gravity, overemphasis on the avoidance of scandal, use of unqualified treatment centers, misguided willingness to forgive and insufficient accountability.

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