October 4th 2019
Around 1,700 priests and clergy members that the Catholic Church considers "credibly accused" of child sexual abuse are living in the US with "no oversight," an AP report published Friday finds.
In its review of more than 5,100 clergy members, AP found that out of 2,000 living priests and other church employees "named as credibly accused abusers," almost 1,700 were "living without much supervision" and working in various roles. Only a few hundred such clergy members were being supervised by the church or by law enforcement.
AP also found that hundreds of "credibly accused abusers" remained in close contact with children.
"More than 160 continued working or volunteering in churches, including dozens in Catholic dioceses overseas and some in other denominations. Roughly 190 obtained professional licenses to work in education, medicine, social work and counseling - including 76 who, as of August, still had valid credentials in those fields," the AP report explains.
AP also cites several examples of clergy members who were accused of abusing children on more than one occasion. For example, Roger Sinclair was removed by the Diocese of Greensburg in Pennsylvania back in 2002 on accusations that he had abused a teenage boy years before. In 2017, he was arrested for molesting a "young developmentally disabled man," according to AP. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in August 2018 that Sinclair reportedly did not pose as a priest when he committed the abuse.
In fact, the majority of people considered "credibly accused" were never criminally prosecuted, the report states, noting that the "lack of criminal history has revealed a sizable gray area that state licensing boards and background check services are not designed to handle as former priests seek new employment, apply to be foster parents and live in communities unaware of their presence and their pasts."
"Defrocked or not, we've long argued that bishops can't recruit, hire, ordain, supervise, shield, transfer and protect predator priests, then suddenly oust them and claim to be powerless over their whereabouts and activities," David Clohessy, the former executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is quoted as saying by AP.
The Catholic Church has long been plagued by the child sexual abuse crisis. In August 2018, a massive cover-up of sexual abuse and rape of minors by Catholic priests was revealed, with a grand jury report showing that more than 1,000 children had been molested by at least 301 Roman Catholic priests in the US state of Pennsylvania since the 1940s.