John Jay study on abuse crisis released — May 19, 2011
U.S. bishops release John Jay College study on causes and context
Today, May 18, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study on the causes and context of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
The major conclusions of this study can be summarized rather succinctly:
• There is no single “cause” of sexual abuse by priests.
• Most cases of abuse occurred in the period of 1965-1985, and most current reports are of abuse that took place more than 25 years ago. The chief trend that emerged was the rise of abuse incidents in the 1960s and 1970s and the sharp decline in the mid-1980s.
• The best way to protect children from abuse is to create safe environments where appropriate boundaries between adults and children are maintained.
• Sexual abuse of minors is a human problem that all of society must always guard against.
The Diocese of Des Moines has established a safe environment program required by The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This program provides for background evaluations for employees and volunteers who have regular contact with children as well as safe environment training through the Virtus program. Nearly 11,000 individuals
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in the Diocese of Des Moines have been trained since the program was established. Another significant component of the program is the screening of candidates for the seminary as well as the education program provided in this regard during their seminary formation.
Procedures are in place through which the diocese responds promptly to any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. A Victim Assistance Advocate and an Allegation Review Committee are appointed to support the process. The diocese has reported allegations of sexual abuse of a minor to public authorities and cooperated with any investigation by law enforcement officials.
All of these procedures are annually audited by a firm retained by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Once every three years the audit is conducted onsite here in the diocese.
“We have been pleased that each annual audit has found the Diocese of Des Moines in compliance with the requirements of the charter,” said Bishop Richard Pates. “I am most grateful to our priests, deacons, staff and volunteers for their commitment to our diocesan program and for all they do to provide a safe environment for all of God’s children.”
The full John Jay College of Criminal Justice study entitled The Causes and Concerns of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States can be accessed (after May 18th) at youth-and-child-protection.cfm.