Sunday, April 14, 2002

Priest scandals expand nationwide

By Dan Horn,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Revelations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have swept the country since early January.

        The Archdiocese of Cincinnati became part of the controversy last month when Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk acknowledged the archdiocese still employs “fewer than five” priests with histories of sexual misconduct.

        Hamilton County prosecutors are reviewing church records to determine whether criminal charges should be filed against the priests.

        Here's how the scandal has evolved nationwide:

        • Boston church officials admitted in February that they had moved a priest from parish to parish for years, despite repeated allegations of sexual abuse. The priest, John Geoghan, is accused of molesting more than 130 people. The Boston church has since given prosecutors the names of more than 80 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.

        • Several priests in Pittsburgh were removed from the ministry after church officials reviewed personnel records and found allegations of sexual misconduct.

        • Prosecutors in Maine began reviewing old allegations of sexual abuse after two priests there were accused of molesting students in the 1970s.

        • A Catholic bishop in Palm Beach, Fla., resigned after admitting he had fondled a teen-age boy 30 years ago. Rev. Anthony J. O'Connell is the highest-ranking church official implicated in the scandals.

        • By late March, allegations began to surface in several other states, including Rhode Island, Minnesota and Missouri.

        • In Cleveland, 24 priests are under investigation by prosecutors for past allegations of sexual misconduct. At least nine of those priests have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. Many of the others retired or left the priesthood years ago.

        • Pope John Paul II spoke of the scandals on March 21, saying they had cast a “dark shadow of suspicion” over priests around the world.


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