Oct. 23, 2019
Contact: Jenny Davies, firstname.lastname@example.org, 720-296-9545
Jenny Stith, email@example.com, 502-299-1841
Survivors Outraged by Report on Rampant Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church
“Time to hold the church and other institutions accountable”
DENVER – Today Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser released a shocking investigative report documenting that at least 43 child predators were allowed to sexually assault 166 children within the Catholic Church in Colorado. The report is full of graphic details of the child sexual abuse, enraging – but not surprising – the community of nonprofit organizations advocating for survivors and sexual assault support organizations.
“I am deeply saddened and outraged that the Catholic Church has looked the other way as priests sexually violated girls and boys who trusted them,” said Jenny Stith, executive director of the WINGS Foundation, an organization providing support to victims of incest and all types of childhood sexual abuse. “But this is hardly a shock. In fact, I think this reflects a church-controlled under-reporting of the problem. It’s time to hold the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts, U.S. Olympic Committee and all other irresponsible institutions fully accountable for harboring abusers in their midst.”
Facing scrutiny for child sexual abuse in other states, the Catholic Church has developed a playbook to perpetuate lies and myths about child sexual abuse, perpetrators and victims to protect their institution’s reputation and significant financial assets around the country. A recent USA Today investigative piece reveals how the Catholic Church – and the Boy Scouts of America – marshall their extraordinary legal, public relations and lobbying resources to deny victims justice, protect abusers and deflect responsibility from themselves as institutions.
“Since the Catholic Church was not subject to a subpoena and were able to choose what information to share with the investigator, my gut tells me this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Michael Carpino with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “As someone who survived sexual abuse by a Catholic priest that shattered my life, faith and trust in others, I applaud the work of the previous Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman who began this investigation as well as the current Attorney General Phil Weiser and Special Master Robert Troyer’s current investigative work but I urge them to dig deeper to uncover cases the Church could be hiding especially within the Orders of priest, nuns, monks and others that were not part of this investigation so there is a complete reconciliation.”
“Until we hold perpetrators responsible for the horrific harm they inflict, we’ll never be able to prevent child sexual abuse,” said Joelle Casteix, a former Denverite who successfully sued her California Catholic Diocese for sexual abuse and gained access to more than 200 pages of secret files that the church had withheld from law enforcement. “We need to implement legal and financial steps such as retroactive statute of limitations reform to hold the perpetrators and the institutions that shield them and ensure survivors get the counseling and support they need to heal.”
Those who sexually abuse children use their positions of respect and authority to win a child’s affection, trust, and love. When abusers evolve their behavior to include sexual abuse, the child is often manipulated and silenced into submission, which is why very few children report their abuse until middle-age. As a result of child sexual abuse, survivors commonly experience depression, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, suicidality and repeated victimizations, among others.
“Time and time again survivors are made to confront the misuse of institutional power and lack of accountability when seeking the truth about their abuse. This can be detrimental to a survivor’s healing,” said Brie Franklin, executive director of the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA). “All institutions, from families, to churches, to national organizations, must center the needs of survivors if the epidemic of silence is going to end. Prevention and support for survivors must be the priorities if we are truly going to keep Colorado communities safe from sexual violence.”
The WINGS Foundation is one of the only organizations in the country solely dedicated to providing education, advocacy, and support to all adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including men, women, and people of all gender-identities.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is the largest, oldest and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious and institutional authorities, including priests, ministers, bishops, deacons, nuns, coaches, teachers, and others.
As a statewide coalition, CCASA supports our members, partners, and the broader community through technical assistance, training, information and referrals, educational materials, statewide systems change, and public policy education and advocacy. The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) provides leadership, advocacy, and support to address and prevent sexual violence.