DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on Tuesday released more details on the state’s investigation into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests. Nine new names were released, including the late Rev. Charles B. Woodrich, better known as Father Woody, who served in the Denver Archdiocese. Woodrich is known for his work with the homeless community in Denver, and was described by some as the “patron saint of the poor, hungry and homeless.” He started Samaritan Shelter in November 1986 and died in 1991.
Last October, CBS4 reported on childhood sex abuse by Catholic priests in Colorado between 1951 and 1999. In addition to identifying the nine priests, Tuesday’s supplemental report identified 46 additional victims.
“All these cases of abuse happened between 1951 and 1999. And they were committed by 25 priests, either in the Denver Archdiocese or the Pueblo Diocese,” Weiser stated. Sixteen of those priests were previously identified, nine are new.
“Of the newly identify priests, five of them were in Denver and four in Pueblo,” Weiser stated.
Weiser said 16 of the 46 newly reported victims were abused after the relevant diocese already knew that there was a priest who was an abuser.
The total from the two reports is 212 substantiated incidents committed by 52 diocesan priests.
The new report states that Father Woody had three male victims between 1976 and 1989. One victim was groomed and abused over a six-year period, starting when he was 12 years old. He said the abuse included touching and oral sex. Another said he was served alcohol and woke up later wearing little clothing. He was 15 or 16 years old at the time.
The Archdiocese of Denver released a statement on the supplemental report, that read, in part:
“For Catholics, learning about the past sins of former priests has been extremely difficult, especially when the priest was well-known and respected. For any priest that has been named in the initial report or supplemental report, the archdiocese has removed that priest’s name from any honorary designation including buildings, facilities, and programs.”
In response to the new report, The Catholic Bishops of Colorado released a statement that read, in part:
“It is important to note that the findings of the supplemental report fit the same historical pattern as the initial report with the vast majority of incidents occurring decades ago. In fact, 91% of the incidents in the supplemental report are from the 1950s to 1970s, more than 40 years ago. None of the incidents are from the past 20 years.
In addition to reviewing the past, the supplemental report also focuses on the present, including a review of the steps taken by the dioceses in the last year to improve their policies and practices when it comes to handling allegations of abuse and helping survivors that come forward. The supplemental report makes clear that each diocese ‘has now implemented very substantial, specific, and measurable improvements to its child-protection systems,’ and implemented the recommendations identified in the Special Master’s initial report.”