Report names several Atlanta priests with “credible allegations of child abuse”

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 4:00 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - A report several years in the making has named priests in the Archdiocese of Atlanta with “credible allegations of child abuse.”

The Archdiocese of Atlanta and Diocsese of Savannah agreed to a third-party review of “any records, files, documents, and reports concerning suspected child abuse in their possession” by the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council in 2019.

The review did not uncover allegations that could be “criminally pursued.” Few of the allegations have been considered in court. Some are outside the statute of limitations.

The report instead details historical sexual abuse and misconduct within the Archdiocese of Atlanta and Diocese of Savannah. It identifies 25 Atlanta priests and lay people and keeps 12 priests anonymous. It also names several individuals in the Diocese of Savannah.

SNAP, the Survivors Network, issued this response:

“We read horrible accounts from survivors and the devasting impact of abuse on victims in report after report, from state to state to country to country. To us—and hopefully, everyone who reads this report—the number of abusers will be seen as astonishingly low, especially given that Georgia has roughly 1.3 million Catholics. The number of suspected perpetrators generally leans toward 10%, according to statistics that are frequently reported after investigative reports into sexual abuse by institutions, clergy, and religious officials are made public.

This report, in our opinion, is a repetition of what the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah’s list of “credibly accused clergy” already tells us. A “bishop’s playbook” and a “systematic cover-up” by high-ranking church officials, on the other hand, were revealed by the largest secular inquiry into clergy abuse, which was carried out in Pennsylvania. Sadly, that is not the case here. We hope that the low numbers of abusive clergy reported will encourage other still-silent victims and witnesses to come forward as well as parishioners and the public to press secular authorities in Georgia to do more investigating. It is our hope that this initial news will serve as a reminder to victims that they are not alone and that there are people who will support and believe them.

We are certain there are a lot more abusive clergy members than are being reported. This is based on our 30 years of experience, the (PAC) findings, and reports we have seen published by other state authorities.

We find it alarming to see that the report revealed that the Archdiocese of Atlanta started to treat reports of sexual abuse more seriously in the early 1990s. We know the average age at which allegations of child sex abuse are made is 52. That would imply that abuse victims from the 1990s and 2000s have yet to acknowledge the full effects the trauma has had on their life and have not stepped forward.

Although most secular investigations produce the most evidence, some that date back decades and decades and decades about charges of abuse against the Catholic Church, this report appears more as a preservation tactic for a struggling church. Survivors’ voices deserve to be heard and their experiences validated. Reports such as this demonstrate that sexual assault itself is not a failure of a system, it is part of the system.”

You can read the entire report below.