The Colorado attorney general will release a report Tuesday identifying new priests alleged of abuse a year after the agency completed a parish registry review and compiled a list of Colorado Catholic ministers credibly alleged of sexual misconduct .
The new report will contain new, substantiated allegations against clergymen and an update of the actions taken by the Diocese of Colorado and the Archdiocese of Denver.
The first report, published in October 2019, found that 166 children had been ill-treated since 1950. 43 priests have also been identified who were involved in the abuse. The list was compiled as part of a major effort by the Attorney General’s Office – a review that examined 500 clergy records and interviewed dozen of witnesses, clergymen, victims, and others. The review lasted eight months and was led by Robert Troyer, who was previously a U.S. attorney for Colorado.
Troyer’s team relied on Church records, as well as follow-up interviews and investigations. It was recognized in the report itself that trust in the Church’s files means they are not complete.
The report harshly criticized the Church’s “long history of silence, self-protection and secrecy, which is reinforced by euphemism”. The internal audit committees stated that action was taken against “longstanding and generally accepted methods of interviewing victims of any kind of crime, let alone victims of sexual assault”. It identified a priest who allegedly molested 63 children over the age of 21 while the Church was aware of the allegations against him and moved him six times.
This priest’s long career and the mistakes that enabled him to continue his alleged abuse are described in the report as the “microcosm” of the Church’s mistakes, mistakes that led to further abuse and victimization.
“Specifically, data from our review also shows that historically it took an average of 19.5 years for a Colorado diocese to specifically curtail the authority of an abusive priest after receiving allegations of sexually abusing children,” they wrote Investigators added that “seven alleged abusers” were never restricted here by the church. “Almost a hundred children have since been sexually abused.”
The Archdiocese of Denver has partnered with the Dioceses of Colorado Springs and Pueblo to establish a program to provide indefinite reparations to the victims in Colorado. By mid-October, 73 victims had been paid for a total of $ 6.7 million.
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser will hold a press conference Tuesday to discuss the supplementary findings.
In recent years, dioceses and states across the country have begun to grapple with the abuse of Catholic clergy that has occurred and has continued over the past few decades. Several state attorneys general have conducted their own investigations, although Colorado’s reliance on diocese-provided files differs from the more litigation-centric investigation.
In neighboring Wyoming, which falls under the umbrella of the Archdiocese of Denver, church leaders published their own list in June 2019, in which eleven clergy were identified. It has since been updated to include two more priests accused of abuse.
On that list is retired Bishop Joseph Hart, who has been accused of molesting boys for at least 30 years. This misconduct allegedly began as early as the 1960s. He was a bishop in Wyoming for 25 years and retired in 2001. Before that, he spent 20 years in Kansas City. Hart, 89, is the subject of a canonical investigation in Rome which could be debunked.