Catholic priest abuse cases rise

04/11/2011 20:34


WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- The number of Catholic priests accused of child sexual abuse and the number of victims rose significantly in 2010, the U.S. Conference of Bishops said Monday.

The sexual abuse by priests grew more expensive for the church, as well, the bishops reported. U.S. dioceses paid out $70.3 million to settle abuse claims last year, an increase of more than $19 million over 2009, their report said.

The bishops' report said there were 426 victims last year, up from 398 in 2009, while the number of priests accused went up from 286 to 345. Those numbers are down from highs of 889 victims and 622 offending clergy members in 2004.

Most of the cases involved adults reporting they were abused years ago as children. The bishops said of the 2010 total seven were "credible" allegations made by children against seven priests, down from eight the previous year. The figures come from a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate of all U.S. dioceses except Lincoln, Neb., which refused to participate.

The survey also cited reports of "boundary violations short of abuse, such as inappropriate hugging."

Nearly 60 percent of the offenders accused in 2010 had been accused earlier, and three-quarters of them are now dead or defrocked.

Most of the alleged crimes are decades old, with the most common period being 1970 to 1974.

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