Church sex scandal: Abuse victims want a full reckoning
Six Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania joined the list this week of those around the U.S. that have been forced to face the ugly truth about child-molesting priests in their ranks.
But in dozens of other dioceses, there has been no reckoning, leading victims to wonder if the church will ever truly take responsibility or be held accountable.
“It happens everywhere, so it’s not really so much a question of where has it happened, but instead, where has word gotten out, where is information about it accessible?” said Terry McKiernan, founder of BishopAccountability.org, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit group that tracks clergy sexual abuse cases.
Since the crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, dioceses around the country have dealt with similar revelations of widespread sexual abuse, with many of them forced to come clean by aggressive plaintiffs’ attorneys, assertive prosecutors or relentless journalists.
In a few instances, namely in Tucson, Ariz., and Seattle, dioceses voluntarily named names.
Dioceses in Boston; Los Angeles; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; Denver; San Diego; Louisville, Ky.; and Dallas have all paid multimillion-dollar settlements to victims. Fifteen dioceses and three Catholic religious orders have filed for bankruptcy to deal with thousands of lawsuits.
Still, only about 40 of the nearly 200 dioceses in the U.S. have released lists of priests accused of abusing children, and there have been only nine investigations by a prosecutor or grand jury of a Catholic diocese or archdiocese in the U.S., according to BishopAccountability.org.
In many of the dioceses that have been examined, the numbers have been staggering: in the six Pennsylvania dioceses, 300 abusive priests and more than 1,000 victims since the 1940s; in Boston, at least 250 priests and more than 500 victims.