In the Archdiocese of Detroit
The Issue of Sexual Abuse by Clergy: Creating Safe Environments
On June 14, 2002, the bishops of the United States gathered in Dallas, Texas and adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The charter addressed the issue of sexual abuse of children and young people by some priests and bishops, as well as the way the bishops of the United States addressed these crimes and sins. The bishops acknowledged that what they may have done in the past in addressing these matters had, in some instances, caused great pain and confusion. As a body, the bishops accepted responsibility for the mistakes of the past and took responsibility for dealing with the problem strongly and effectively in the future.
- Report Sexual Abuse
- Personal Safety and Sex Abuse Prevention Programs
- Virtus© Workshop for Adults
- Called to Serve© Workshop for Teens
On December 8, 2002, the Vatican Congregation for Bishops approved a document known as Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons. These norms became church law for the United States and required, among other things, the establishment of a Review Board consisting of a majority of laypersons not in the employ of the church. In addition, the norms addressed the matter of reporting to civil authorities crimes of abuse and establishment that any priest who has committed even one act of sexual abuse of a minor shall not continue in active ministry, and referenced the canonical process that must be followed to permanently remove a priest or deacon from ministry.
The charter established an Office for Child and Youth Protection to provide assistance in addressing these difficult matters. A National Review Board was established to assist the Office for Child and Youth Protection and monitor its activities. The National Review Board was directed to commission a comprehensive study of the causes and context of the present crisis.
On January 6, 2004, the results of an audit of compliance by the dioceses of the United States to the requirements of the charter and the norms were issued. That year and every year since, the Detroit archdiocese was found to be in full compliance with the norms and charter. That said, the archdiocese continues to work on areas that need improvement.
Since 1998, the archdiocese has had a published policy on the sexual abuse of minors and a Review Board in place. During the summer of 2002, the nature and the structure of this board were reconstituted to assure compliance with the charter and norms. The charge give to the Review Board is outlined in a letter from the board members to Detroit's then-archbishop, Cardinal Adam Maida, summarizing their first year and a half of deliberations. Msgr Ricardo Bass is the archbishop's delegate for these matters.
On February 27, 2004, the National Review Board released a study of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in the United States since 1950. The report was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Known as the John Jay Study, it seeks to provide a "descriptive study... of the nature and scope of the problem including statistics" on perpetrators and victims. While the study itself covers the period between 1950 and December 2002, the figures presented on our web site are kept up to date.
As the report indicates, approximately 3,267 priests and deacons served in the archdiocese between 1950 and February 2004. During that time period, 63 of that total number, or 1.93%, have been accused of sexually abusing a minor or minors. 43 (1.32%) were archdiocesan priests, 23 of whom are deceased; 18 (0.55%) were religious order members; and 2 (0.07%) were deacons, 1 of whom is deceased. (Subsequent to the John Jay Study, 3 other cases were brought forward to the archdiocese.) Pursuant to an agreement with prosecutors in the six counties of the archdiocese reached in the spring of 2002, information on these cases was turned over to the appropriate civil authorities for their review and necessary action. None of the archdiocesan clerics named in these cases remain in public ordained ministry. Subsequent to establishment of the 1988 archdiocesan policy, 30 of the clerics involved were restricted or removed from public priestly ministry. Of that number, ten are deceased. (Cases involving members of religious institutions are referred and first addressed by the superior generals of those organizations.) From 1950 to 2009, the number of victims known to the archdiocese as a result of these cases is 122.
Cumulatively since 1950, our best calculation is hat the archdiocese spent $3,775,000 on various settlements and counseling costs for victims. In June of 2002, the archdiocese released information that $952,000 had been paid in confidential settlements that included provisions for counseling in some instances. That figure covered allegations brought to the archdiocese between 1987-2002 and that were, as per our agreement, reported to prosecutors. To that number must be added a settlement prior to 1987 of $325,000 of which outside insurance carriers paid $301,500. As of 2009, the total figure (from 1950 forward) comes to the above referenced $3,75,000, of which $601,500 was paid by outside insurance carriers.
In the early years, to provide for these expenses, the money came from insurance companies. When such insurance became unattainable, the Detroit archdiocese and the other dioceses of Michigan set up a special fund similar to "self insurance" from investment income to replace the insurance coverage previously purchased. These funds grew to the point where the original deposit was then returned to the respective dioceses. The interest was left to provide the coverage that might be needed. No other funds have been set aside or deposits made to the fund for this purpose. No Catholic Services Appeal (CSA) or parish assessment money has been used to pay for these expenses.
The John Jay Study includes the number of accused perpetrators and victims for the whole country, as well as the total costs for the entire Church in the United States, including the Archdiocese of Detroit. Regrettably, there is no other body of data by any other institution or profession available for comparison. It is hoped the issuance of the John Jay Study will encourage others to gather data to help deal with this tragic reality that has harmed many people.
On a number of occasions and in different settings, the current and former archbishops of Detroit have offered an apology to those who have been victimized and for the Church's failures to address this matter more appropriately. Those who have been the victim of sexual abuse by a cleric are invited and encouraged to come forward. First contact can be made via the archdiocesan toll free line at (866) 343-8055.
Since 2004, members of the clergy, archdiocesan professional staff, and tens of thousands of volunteers have participated in locally sponsored safe environment initiatives: Protecting God's Children for adults and Called to Serve for teens. The programs focus on personal safety and sex abuse protection.
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