DENVER (CBS4) — At least 166 children in Colorado were sexually abused by 43 Catholic priests since 1950, according to a report by an independent review. Almost all of the victims were boys and most were between the ages of 10 and 14.
“The numbers and the stories are painful,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said Wednesday.
“In Denver, 127 people were victimized by 22 priests. In Colorado Springs, three victims with two priests engaging in this activity, the last episode reported 1986. In Pueblo, 36 cases and 19 priests, the latest episode in 2011,” Weiser said, adding they can’t be certain there aren’t more cases out there because records kept by the dioceses were flawed and incomplete. Weiser encouraged survivors who have not yet come forward to do so.
The 250-page report released Wednesday named 21 Archdiocesan priests, and one extern priest who served briefly in Denver, going back 70 years. Fifteen of the 21 Archdiocesan priests listed in the report are deceased.
- Leonard Abercrombie (Deceased)
- Robert Banigan (Deceased)
- Thomas Barry (Deceased)
- Joseph Bosetti (Deceased)
- Charles Brown (Left Archdiocese in 1970; incardinated in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 1987; retired in 2002.)
- Rafael Jairo Called (Extern Priest. Faculties revoked and removed from ministry in 1997; returned to Ecuador; current status unknown.)
- Tim Evans (In Prison. Faculties revoked and removed from ministry in 2003; laicized in 2013.)
- Edward Fraczkowski (Deceased)
- Neil Hewitt (Left Archdiocese and faculties revoked in 1980.)
- John Hollowy (Deceased)
- DeLisle Lemieux (Deceased)
- John McGinn (Deceased)
- Francis Pettit (Deceased)
- James Rasby (Deceased)
- Leonard Scezney (Left Archdiocese and faculties revoked in 1992.)
- Harley Schmitt (Deceased)
- Lawrence St. Peter (Deceased)
- John Stein (Deceased)
- George Weibel (Deceased)
- Robert Whipkey (Faculties revoked and removed from ministry in 2007.)
- Robert H. White (Deceased)
- Thomas Woerth (Retired in 2005; faculties revoked in 2019.)
Five of those priests abused 102 children. The report detailed a cover-up by the Catholic Church that included euphamisms such as “boundary violation,” referring to a priest as suffering “boy trouble,” and a serial abuser as suffering from “nervousness.”
“I want to start by addressing the courage of the survivors who have shared the stories of their abuse,” Archbishop Aquila wrote. “If any survivor wishes to meet with me personally, my door is open. I have met with many survivors, and from these heart wrenching personal interactions, I know there are no words that I can say that will take away the pain. However, I want to be clear that on behalf of myself and the Church, I apologize for the pain and hurt that this abuse has caused, and for anytime the Church’s leaders failed to prevent it from happening. I am sorry about this horrible history— but it is my promise to continue doing everything I can so it never happens again. My sincere hope is that this report provides some small measure of justice and healing.”
“We must face the past and learn from it, and we must know if our children are safe today. Thanks to our ongoing vigilance, they are,” Aquila stated.
Aquila stated the investigation found “no substantiated reports of sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests in the Archdiocese within the past 20 years” and said there are no diocesan priests in active ministry in the Archdiocese with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor.
In response to the report, the Archiocese of Denver released a nine-page statement with answers to frequently asked questions and instructions for reporting allegations of sexual abuse by any person in any way affiliated with the Archdiocese.
Archdiocese officials stated:
“First, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, at 1-844-264-5437.
“In addition, you may report an allegation of sexual abuse to the Archdiocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection at 720-239-2832 or email@example.com. Please note, it is the policy of the Archdiocese (including its parishes, schools, clergy and lay employees and volunteers) to report any reasonable allegation of abuse or neglect, including sexual abuse, of a person who is a minor to law enforcement in accordance with Colorado law.
“You can also report an allegation online to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, at https://coag.gov/resources/survivors-of-childhood-sexual-abuse/report-abuse/.”
If you need support or assistance, victim services are available through the Archdiocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator at 720-239-2832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A statement was issued by the survivors network SNAP, “Our hearts ache for each one of these victims and their families.”
A reparations program for survivors of sexual abuse by priests in Colorado was announced earlier this month.