CASPER, Wyo. — A report released on Tuesday, Oct. 22 states that “a total of at least 166 children have been victimized by 43 Roman Catholic priests” in Colorado since 1950.
Efforts to create the new “Special Master’s Report” were led by Colorado’s former United States Attorney Robert Troyer.
It found that five priest were responsible for sexually abusing 102 of the children.
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“Over two-thirds of Colorado’s 166 child victims were sexually abused during the 1960s and 1970s,” the report adds. “Colorado Roman Catholic priests also sexually abused at least 9 children in the 1980s and at least 11 children in the 1990s.”
“The most recent clergy child sex abuse — that victims have reported and that Colorado’s Dioceses have recorded in their files — occurred when a Denver priest sexually abused 4 children in 1998.”
The majority of victims were age 10-14 and 140 of the victims were male.
“In addition, 97 of Colorado’s 166 child victims were sexually abused after the Colorado Dioceses were on notice that the priests were child sex abusers,” the report says.
The report also details which regions of the state in which the abuse occurred:
- Archdiocese of Denver: At least 127 children victimized by 22 Roman Catholic priests
- Diocese of Pueblo: At least 36 children victimized by 19 priests
- Diocese of Colorado Springs: At least 3 children
victimized by 2 priests
The number of people coming forward to report that they experienced abuse as children is on the rise.
“The report rate in 2019 is higher than it has been in 14 years,” the report explains.
Colorado Catholic officials were slow to take action to cull priests’ behavior.
“Notably, the data from our review also indicates that historically on average it took 19.5 years before a Colorado Diocese concretely restricted an abusive priest’s authority after receiving an allegation that he was sexually abusing children,” the report says. “Nearly a hundred children were sexually abused in the interim.”
“However, from the data available to us, it appears in the last 10 years the Colorado Dioceses have immediately suspended the powers of any accused priest pending further investigation.”
Despite the number of abuse cases detailed in the report, none were recommended for legal action.
“In our review and investigation, we referred no allegations of clergy child sex abuse to a Colorado District Attorney’s Office,” it states. “We found only 1 allegation that is arguably still viable for prosecution within the relevant statute of limitations, and that allegation already has been reported to the authorities.”
While no current priests in Colorado were revealed as sex offenders, the report urges caution on drawing conclusions.
“Arguably the most urgent question asked of our work is this: are there Colorado priests currently in ministry who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children?” the report asks. “The direct answer is only partially satisfying: we know of none, but we also know we cannot be positive there are none.”
“In other words, the priest files we reviewed do not reveal any child sex abusers in active ministry in Colorado, but those records are not reliable proof of the absence of active abuse.”
The Colorado Dioceses’ historical inaction in such cases suggests reason for pause.
“Our review revealed flaws in the Colorado Dioceses’ records and practices that make it impossible to honestly and reliably conclude that no clergy child sex abuse has occurred in Colorado since 1998 — or that no Colorado Roman Catholic priests in active ministry have sexually abused children or are sexually abusing them,” the report says.