An investigation by the Associated Press (AP) has uncovered nearly 1,700 priests and others in the Roman Catholic Church that remain active – without supervision – despite being credibly accused of sexually assaulting children.

The AP says it found priests, monks and deacons who are teaching classes, volunteering their time at playgrounds and day care centers or counseling sexual assault survivors. The investigation found that dozens have committed crimes, including possessing child pornography and sexual assault.

Dozens remain active in parishes

AP spent nine months tracking 2,000 priests accused of sexual assault and found 85% are living with limited or no supervision. The investigation found that 168 are still active in the Catholic Church in the following roles:

  • 43 minister at new churches or in other denominations
  • 33 serve as Catholic priests overseas
  • 14 are in lay positions, such as lector, eucharist minister or music director
  • 11 serve as fill-in priests at various Catholic churches
  • 11 are church administrators

Nearly 200 have positions of trust outside the church

The research found that, in addition to those who remain active inside the church, 193 others have licenses to practice in medicine, social work, counseling and education. AP says it found cases where priests were placed in positions where they were once again able to prey upon victims. The investigation uncovered court documents for 65 former priests who, since leaving the church, have been charged with such crimes as:

  • Sexual assault
  • Possession, creation or distribution of child pornography
  • Failure to follow rules for sex offender registries
  • Indecent exposure

Results illustrate the scope of sexual abuse by clergy

So far, Catholic dioceses have shared the names of 5,100 clergy members accused of sexual assault. AP was able to track down nearly all of the accused who are still alive. Each diocese sets its own standards of what constitutes inappropriate behavior, ranging from unwanted hugging to rape and sodomy. The investigation is the most in-depth review, so far, of what happens to priests and others in the church who prey upon vulnerable children.

Survivors and others step forward to hold abusers accountable

As more survivors of sexual abuse by clergy come forward, others remain hesitant to relive painful memories and are unsure how to share their feelings of anger and confusion.

If you are a sexual assault survivor, a compassionate and experienced personal injury attorney can help hold your abuser accountable. They can also seek justice on your behalf for the physical and emotional harm you have suffered.