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Leaked report says 11,000 children abused by US clergy

CNN reported at the weekend the contents of a draft report revealing that around 4450 US clergy allegedly abused 11,000 minors between 1950 and 2002.

"Whatever they reported is premature," said James Levine, dean of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, which last year conducted a nationwide study of Catholic clergy sexual abuse of minors and plans to release its report at the end of next week.

The study was commissioned by the National Review Board established by the US bishops to help them deal with the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Mr Levine said a final portion of the CNN news story, reporting underlying causes of abuse, did not come from a draft of the John Jay study although CNN cited the study as its source.

By mid-February about 90 of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States had released summaries of the local data they supplied to the John Jay researchers for the 52-year study on the nature and scope of abuse of minors by clerics. But many of the local summaries did not provide breakdowns by age of alleged victims or number of clerics facing more than one accusation.

According to CNN, the national draft report said 78% of the alleged victims were age 11 to 17 years at the time of the abuse, 16% were 8 to 10 years old, and 6% were 7 or younger.

Citing the John Jay draft report as its source, it said reasons cited for the extent of the abuse in the church included "failure to grasp the gravity of the problem," "an overemphasis on avoidance of scandal," "use of unqualified treatment centers," "a misguided willingness to forgive" and "insufficient accountability."

When the John Jay study is released, it will be the first comprehensive national attempt by any major organisation or profession in the United States to study and report publicly on the extent of sexual abuse of minors within its ranks.

Leaked report says 4,450 priests abused 11,000 children since 1950 (Catholic News Service 16/2/04)

John Jay College of Criminal Justice | JJC Responds to Media Reports on Catholic Church Sex Abuse Study
US Conference of Catholic Bishops: Report of the National Review Board (29/6/03)
Priests linked to abuse of 11,000 US children (The Age/Washington Post 18/2/04)
Citing Survey, CNN Says 4,450 Priests Were Accused of Abuse (New York Times 17/2/04)
Victims' advocates question Catholic report (Las Vegas Sun 16/2/04)
Picture of child sex abuse in U.S. society clouded by lack of data (Catholic News Service 13/2/04)
Lawyers in sex abuse cases should be accountable, says expert (Catholic News Service 16/2/04)

18 Feb 2004