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Sexual abuse allegations decline significantly in US


Brian A Jackson I Shutterstock

Aleteia - published on 07/14/22

The annual audit conducted by the independent firm StoneBridge Business Partners brings further transparency to protect minors and vulnerable adults.

Just over 3,000 allegations of sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy against minors were filed in the reporting period ending June 30, 2021, according to an audit conducted by StoneBridge Business Partners, an independent agency. The number of allegations reported by victim survivors — 3,103 to be precise — demonstrates a significant decline from the last reporting period 2019-2020, as it includes 1,149 fewer allegations of abuse.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) explains in a statement that “This decrease is due in large part to the resolution of allegations received as a result of lawsuits, compensation programs, and bankruptcies.”

Of the allegations from the 2020-2021 audit period, 30 were made by “current minors” and six of those 30 allegations were substantiated. The USCCB further reports that, “Nine are still under investigation, nine were unsubstantiated, five were unable to be proven, and one was referred to the provincial of a religious order.”

Additional results of the audit

According to the audit, three dioceses and one eparchy were found in non-compliance. The Diocese of Corpus Christi, the Diocese of Lafayette in Louisiana, the Diocese of New Ulm, and the Eparchy of Newton failed to comply with the USCCB’s standards, having not convened their review boards.

The review boards of these dioceses and this eparchy were subsequently convened and they have been brought into compliance.

Increasing transparency, rebuilding trust

The audit, the results of which are publicly available, is the 19th audit since 2002, when the USCCB adopted the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” Commonly called the “Dallas Charter,” the policy responded to the urgent need to reform church protocols following the devastating clergy abuse crisis that materialized in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Among those reforms, the charter established the current zero tolerance policy, according to which clergy who commit sexual abuse against minors are removed permanently from ministry.

The audit also details the breadth of child safety and protection measures. The USCCB reports, “In 2021, the church conducted 1,964,656 background checks on clergy, employees, and volunteers.” In addition to background checks, adults are trained to recognize signs of potential abuse. “In 2021, over 2 million adults and over 2.4 million children and youth were trained in how to identify the warning signs of abuse and how to report those signs,” states the USCCB.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of child sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, report the incident to a victim assistance coordinator here.

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