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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The U.S. bishops are reporting they spent more than $300 million last year on a surge of new cases involving credible allegations of clerical sex abuse of minors.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) annual report released Friday found new credible allegations of sex abuse of children had more than doubled from 369 credible allegations in 2017 to 858 in 2018. The National Review Board (NRB) conducting the study stated in the report "the numbers of victims, allegations, and offenders reported for July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, represent a 132 percent increase in allegations, a 133 percent increase in victims, and a 51 percent increase in offenders" over the previous year.
The NRB also reported this increase was "mainly due to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs implemented in dioceses throughout New York State." Roughly 785 of the 858 cases emerged from just five dioceses in New York.
Because the audit ended June 30, 2018, it does not include any of the massive abuse claims anticipated after one-third of the states have launched state-wide probes into clerical sex abuse in the last year following the release of the widely reported Pennsylvania grand jury report on sex abuse in that state.
The report breaks down how the $301 million was spent as follows:
The report calculated that three-fourths of the payments were for settlements to victims; attorney fees accounted for an additional 12%. Support for offenders amounted to 9% of the total payments. But experts agree that sex abuse expenditures will skyrocket following the so-called "Summer of Shame" that began last June with the many scandals related to homosexual predator Theodore McCarrick.
This unprecedented period saw a host of whistleblowers and victims come forward along with many dioceses being raided by law enforcement. Many members of law enforcement have confirmed to Church Militant that a federal investigation may soon be launched under a federal law known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) that was established in 1970 to fight organized crime.
The investigation that's being led by U.S. Attorney General William McSwain is specifically looking into clerical misconduct that includes:
The federal RICO investigation may in turn trigger President Donald Trump's executive order on human rights violations. Trump did sign this order, titled "Executive Order Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption," on Dec. 21, 2017.
Sources tell Church Militant that when Trump visited the Vatican in May of 2017, he informed Pope Francis during a private meeting that he would soon be signing an executive order regarding human rights violations and penalties that was being drafted in part to address the clerical sex abuse crisis and its cover-up within the Catholic Church.
Clerical sex abuse that involves perpetrators or victims crossing state lines or involves coordinated efforts by any organization to cover up such abuse is what violates RICO. Because these crimes involve sexual abuse, they are thereby human rights violations, which fall under Trump's executive order.
Trump's executive order states, "The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons."
The federal government is authorized to confiscate the property of any organization, including the Catholic Church, that is found to have fostered or covered up human rights violations perpetrated by its members. It would also likely cause the withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding received annually by the Church.
If this happens, the loss of Church property and revenue could run into the billions and dwarf previous annual payouts by a factor of 10.
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