KATHLEEN CAREY — DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA
Determining how many children have suffered from to sexual abuse can be challenging — and different individuals and organizations have their own record-keeping methods.
After flipping through a nine-page report listing 63 priests linked to childhood sexual abuse in the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report, state Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-126, of Berks County, said, “These are perpetrators, predators, pedophiles who went to that treatment facility and then got put back into active ministry without ever once going through the legal system.”
These men who were all priests at one point were categorized in Rozzi’s list. Four were sentenced to jail time. Eighteen were listed as being remanded to a supervised life of prayer and penance. Seven had died. Twenty were identified as being recommended for laicization and three left the priesthood. One retired to the Camden, N.J., diocese. The fate of five men were unknown.
Of the 63, 32 had spent time at the St. John Vianney Treatment Center in Downingtown.
Based on the list, those individuals were located in Orlando, Fla., Hawaii, Brazil, Atlantic City, N.J., the Bronx, N.Y. and the St. Louis archdiocese.
“So, these religious clergy, who in other circumstances would be on Megan’s List, are roaming around free, pensions in their pockets and in many cases, living next door to our children,” Rozzi said.
Ken Gavin, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, said the archdiocese publishes its own status of priests related to credible allegations on its website at archphila.org/archdiocesan-offices/office-of-investigation/status-of-clergy. He said the Rozzi document was edited.
Part of the internal archdiocesan process includes reports of allegations being sent to its Office of Investigations, headed by Al Toczydlowski, a former prosecutor who worked in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office for 30 years.
Gavin said less than six allegations of childhood sexual abuse have been made within the archdiocese in 11 years. Only one was substantiated.
“When looking at conduct alleged to have occurred between 2005 and the present day, there are less than half a dozen allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by an archdiocesan priest in that time period,” Gavin said.
He said the only substantiated case in the past 10 years was that of the Rev. Mark Haynes, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia last year to criminal charges involving child pornography and other offenses involving sexual misconduct with children.
He added also that the archdiocesan definition of “sexual abuse of a minor” exceeds the criminal justice system definition by including possession and viewing of child pornography.
“The figures presented … clearly illustrate that our work toward prevention, education and training has made a positive impact on the life of our local church and the young people entrusted to her care,” he said.
Gavin said any allegation involving the sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, deacon, lay employee or volunteer is immediately reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
The required canonical investigation at the archdiocese’s Office of Investigation does not begin until law enforcement is finished their work, according to Gavin. Here, if it is found to be substantiated, it is referred to the Professional Responsibility Review Board.
That board, comprised of former prosecutors, victim advocates, clergy and others, makes a recommendation to Archbishop Charles Chaput, who makes the final determination in the case.
Toczydlowski said the board meets depending on caseload, which was monthly at one point but now meets every two months.
In addition, Gavin said if a priest is placed on administrative leave due to circumstances involving sexual abuse of a child, the parish community and the news media are notified.
“It’s a new world and it has been for a number of years now,” he said. “It’s not somebody disappearing in the middle of the night.”
He added that hundreds of priests are active in the archdiocese.
Canon law has no statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases. “The vast majority of the reports that (Toczydlowski) receives deals with conduct that occurred decades ago,” Gavin said.
In addition, after a report is made, the individual’s information is forwarded to the separate Office for Child and Youth Protection so a Victim Assistance Coordinator from their Victim Assistance Program can follow up to offer support and services that are available.
Nationally, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops compiles an audit every year called the Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
These evaluations date to November 2004 when the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University to create a survey for all dioceses and religious orders within the conference’s reach.
Stonebridge Business Partners visited 70 dioceses and religious orders and reviewed documentation from another 120 for the 2015 report.
It found that 838 people came forward in 123 Catholic dioceses to report 903 allegations of sexual abuse they suffered as a child between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. The abuse dates as far back as the 1940s.
Of the allegations, 26 came from minors and of those, seven were substantiated, the report stated.
Overall, 123 were determined to be substantiated; 53 were unsubstantiated; 398 have investigations that are ongoing; 213 were unable to be proven; and 116 were classified as “other,” such as referred to provincial or unknown.
Some 200 new victims and their family members were offered support and continued support was provided for 1,646 victims and their families across the country.
In addition, more than 2.4 million background checks were completed on clerics, employees and volunteers and 4.3 million children have be taught to identify warning signs of abuse and how to report them.
Casey Smith, deputy communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said statistics on educator discipline are not separated by public, private or parochial entity.
In the department’s 2015 Educator Discipline Report, new educator misconduct complaints totaled 772.
In that same time period, 28 immediate suspensions because individuals had been charged with or convicted of certain crimes.
Of the 226 cases resolved with professional discipline in 2015, 38 percent involved sexual misconduct.
There are 882,685 certified individuals that fall within the state Department of Education’s jurisdiction.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services also compiles information on child abuse in its Annual Child Protective Services Report.
In the 2015 edition, 40,590 reports for suspected child and student abuse were received, of which 26 percent, or 10,355, were received by law enforcement officials for potential criminal investigation.
Of all of these, 4,203 were considered to be substantiated.
The report also categorizes types of allegation based on the relationship of the perpetrator to the child.
In 2015, substantiated reports involving sexual abuse involved 457 fathers; 141 mothers; 858 other relatives; 261 paramours; 391 identified as “other”; 259 step-parents; 286 baby sitters; 97 school staff; 108 ex-paramours of parent; 61 household members; 20 were unknown; 6 legal guardians; 22 ex-parents or ex-step-parents; 7 resource parents; no day care staff; and 7 residential facility staff.