Follow-up report on child sex abuse by Catholic priests uncovers additional 46 claims of abuse in Denver and Pueblo dioceses over last 70 years
Report shows all Colorado dioceses have made meaningful reforms to protect children
Dec. 1, 2020 (DENVER, Colo.)—Another 46 individuals who were sexually abused by Catholic priests have come forward with substantiated claims of abuse since the Colorado Attorney General’s Office released its first report on clergy sex abuse last fall.
The newly substantiated claims are included in a supplemental report that the Attorney General’s Office released today, concluding 22 months of Special Master Bob Troyer’s work investigating and reporting on a 70-year history of Catholic clergy child sexual abuse in Colorado and the Colorado dioceses’ programs and systems for preventing it.
“From the time we announced this program in February 2019, our goals were to support and comfort survivors of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and to bring meaningful change to how the Colorado dioceses protect children from sexual abuse. It takes incredible fortitude for victims of sexual abuse to come forward and tell their stories, and they are the heroes of this effort,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser. “I recognize there isn’t one program or dollar amount that can make up for the trauma that many have been through in their lives, but my sincerest hope is that this unique Colorado program has allowed survivors of sexual abuse by a priest to take one more step on the path to healing and recovery.”
All the newly substantiated incidents of abuse occurred between 1951 and 1999 and were committed by 25 diocesan priests in the Denver Archdiocese and Pueblo Diocese. Sixteen of those priests were already identified in the first report and nine of them are newly identified in the supplemental report. Of the newly identified priests, five served in the Denver Archdiocese and four served in the Pueblo Diocese. There were no additional reports of sexual abuse by diocesan priests serving in the Colorado Springs Diocese.
Additionally, 16 of the 46 newly reported victims were abused after the relevant diocese already knew that the priest was a child sex abuser. Only one of the 46 incidents of abuse was not reported to law enforcement, even though Colorado law required such a report when the victim first came forward in 2006.
Under an agreement between the Colorado dioceses and the Attorney General’s Office, the supplemental investigation focused on victims who reported claims to the Attorney General’s Office or to the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP). From October 2019, the IRRP reviewed claims from victims of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy in Colorado and provided financial compensation to those claims they deemed were credible.
The supplemental report does not include victims who reported directly to a diocese but not to the IRRP or the Attorney General’s Office, nor allegations of abuse by religious-order priests, church volunteers, or employees other than ordained priests. Some victims who reported their abuse to the IRRP chose not to repeat their stories for inclusion in the supplemental report.
According to the supplemental report, over the last year each diocese has implemented meaningful, specific, and measurable improvements to its child-abuse prevention and child-protection systems in response to the earlier report. The three Colorado dioceses accepted all of the Special Master’s recommendations from the first report, including:
- Putting in place professional and independent investigation systems;
- Providing for victim-assistance coordinators whose sole function is to care for victims;
- Substantially improving records-management systems to facilitate child-abuse reporting and law-enforcement reporting, investigations tracking, and training; and
- Creating a culture that encourages victims and parishioners to report child sex abuse first and directly to law enforcement.
Each Colorado diocese has also committed to regular third-party audits of their child-protection systems to ensure they will function as designed.
Attorney General Weiser said he is encouraged by the reforms that the Colorado dioceses have made to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct and abuse of children.
“I am pleased that all of the dioceses in Colorado implemented every recommendation in the first report, and the reforms they have made appear to be meaningful and sound. But as the report points out, these improvements are untested at this point in time, and it will be up to the church to ensure it is creating an environment that is as safe as possible for children now and in the future,” said Weiser.
The Special Master’s supplemental report can be found here.
The Independent Oversight Committee report can be found here.
The Special Master’s first report can be found here.
WARNING: The first and supplemental reports contain graphic and disturbing accounts of the sexual abuse of children.