'Trail of pain' continued

 

On January 12, the front page of the Sunday New York Times featured a story, which jumped to two full pages inside the newspaper, offering the most comprehensive statistical analysis to date of sexual abuse among the Catholic clergy. Titled "Trail of Pain in Church Crisis/ Leads to Nearly Every Diocese," the story examined the number of reported incidents of sexual abuse throughout the country over the past six decades. It concluded that more than twelve hundred priests had victimized four thousand minors, although it cautioned that these numbers were conservative because of the refusal of some dioceses to provide the names of alleged abusers. The study found that abuse was especially rampant in the 1970s and 1980s, but that the number of reported cases had dropped significantly since the early 1990s, a time when many bishops created independent boards to review such accusations. Overall, the Times estimated that during the six-decade period, 1.8 percent of Catholic priests had been accused of abuse, a percentage generally considered below the level of sexual abuse in the adult population as a whole. But the study also confirmed the impression that the vast majority-80 percent-of victims have been young boys. In the larger population, girls are much more likely to be victims of abuse. Even more shocking, 43 percent of the victims were twelve or younger. The Times story was not without its methodological flaws and...

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