Group: $3.8B paid in lawsuits and claims over sex abuse allegations in Catholic Church since 1980s

Posted at 10:20 PM, Aug 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 00:20:47-04

Since the 1980s, the Catholic Church in the United States and its insurance companies have paid out more than $3.8 billion in lawsuits and claims involving allegations of clerical sexual abuse, according to a monitoring group.

BishopAccountability, a non-profit that tracks allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church, says the payouts involved cases filed by more than 8,600 survivors who were allegedly sexually abused by an undisclosed number of clergy since the 1950s.

Spokesman Terry McKiernan told CNN the number of associated clergy is difficult to calculate because some settlement announcements omit the number of predator priests.

The monies have not gone solely to survivors, McKiernan said. Attorneys get a cut, too. And not all the money comes out of the coffers of the Catholic Church, because the church maintains insurance policies that cover a portion of the settlement payments.

Across the nation

The largest payout the group is aware of totaled $660 million and was issued in Los Angeles in 2007.

It was issued on behalf of 221 priests, lay teachers and other church employees who were accused of victimizing 508 people.

According to the data BishopAccountability has compiled, payouts and claims have been issued across the nation, including in Kentucky, Oregon, Delaware, Alaska, Washington, Iowa, Massachusetts, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Missouri, Wisconsin, Vermont, Connecticut, Arizona, Rhode Island, New Jersey, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, New York, Florida and Illinois.

The group has a detailed list on its website naming some of the largest settlements and other case details. CNN has not independently verified the settlements.

Some settlements have listed non-monetary provisions such as establishing a toll-free victim hotline and the creation of victim assistance programs.

A spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told CNN the annual reports on the church’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People detailed specifics of settlements and related costs.

Pennsylvania report

A Pennsylvania grand jury report released August 14 on alleged abuse in six of the state’s dioceses has placed the issue of abuse by Catholic clergy back in the spotlight.

The report detailed documents showing more than 300 "predator priests" have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims over seven decades.

A number of other states have since opened investigations into claims of abuse perpetrated by clergy in the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis issued a letter on Monday acknowledging the church’s failure to act on the accounts of abuse but some victims say it does not go far enough.

The Pope is set to visit Ireland this weekend and will meet with abuse survivors there Tuesday.

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