Sex Abuse Cost Australian Catholics Nearly $300 Million

News: World News
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  February 16, 2017   

Most of the abuse claims occurred before 1982

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CANBERRA, Australia ( - A new report reveals the Catholic Church in Australia has paid out $276 million over the past 35 years over clerical sex abuse.

According to data released February 15 by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, established by Australia to investigate sex abuse, the Catholic Church in Australia has shelled out the U.S. equivalent of $212 million to 2,854 claimants from 1980–2015.

The report reveals, "The average time between the first alleged incident date and the date the claim was received was 33 years." Most of the alleged abuse, therefore, took place before 1982.

Established in 2013, the Royal Commission has the power to subpoena witnesses to acquire testimony. It can also recommend legislative changes and criminal charges. The new report was generated from data kept by Catholic bishops and heads of religious institutes. The time period of the claims data spanned from 1980–2015, although the incidents of abuse dated back to 1950.
This report chronicles human damage and misery at the hands of the Catholic Church.

Francis Sullivan, chief executive of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, explained, "From the 1950s to the current time, this report chronicles human damage and misery at the hands of the Catholic Church."

Sullivan noted that most of the alleged child sex abuse occurred prior to the early 1980s, noting the data shows a "massive drop-off" in the incidents of clerical sex abuse in parishes and schools after the 1970s.

Five religious orders — The Christian Brothers, the St. John of God Brothers, the Marist Brothers, the De La Salle Brothers and the Patrician Brothers — made up only five percent of all Catholic authorities but accounted for 41 percent of all payouts. Catholic-run schools were connected to 46 percent of all claims.

The data revealed that 2,854 claims of child sexual abuse resulted in monetary compensation. On average, each claimant received $91,000.

The Christian Brothers, a religious order that operated numerous children's homes in Australia, paid an average of $64,000 to 763 claimants, totalling $48 million. The highest average payout was $901,000 to the nine abuse survivors of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The study found that the highest incidents of child sexual abuse — 29 percent of all cases — occurred in the 1970s.


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