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What are credibly accused priests doing now? Whatever they want

Over the past 15 years there have been well over 4,000 allegations of clergy sexual abuse by minors, according to statistics from a Georgetown University-affiliated research group. These specific allegations date back to the 1970s. It’s only in the past decade that important institutions began to take these claims seriously.

A disturbing new investigation, however, makes it clear the situation is far from resolved, as hundreds of priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse continue to live their life with no restrictions. In some cases, they’re even working directly with kids while in positions of trust and authority.

Counselors, foster parents and teachers

This worrying news was uncovered by an Associated Press investigation, which checked in on the 2,000 or so living priests from the Roman Catholic Church who were publicly named as credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The reporters found nearly 1,700 of those former clergy members are currently living with little to no oversight of their activities.

In addition, some of these priests not only live near schools and parks, but had jobs or livelihoods including:

  • Middle-school math teacher
  • Counselor for survivors of sexual abuse
  • Nurse
  • Volunteer at a nonprofit that supports at-risk youth
  • Foster parent

Even more worrying: The investigation found dozens of cases in which the credibly accused priests were later charged with crimes, 42 of which were sexual or violent in nature. That includes 12 charged with sexual abuse of a minor, and 13 accused of possessing child pornography.

Survivors’ options

While alarming, the Associated Press’ findings are not surprising. The church had a responsibility to protect children. Their failure to do so caused immense pain to many survivors not just when it happened, but even now – as some of these priests continue to operate unencumbered.

Those survivors who feel ready may be able to consider a legal case against their abuser as a way to seek justice, hold them accountable, find personal closure and send a message to others.

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