1. The John Jay College Study reported that between 1950 and
2004 there were 10,667 documented accusations and reports made of sexual
abuse by Catholic clerics in the United States. There have been no
similar studied done in other countries presently reporting widespread
clergy abuse such as Ireland, the U.K., Canada, Australia and New
Zealand. It is widely believed that since it is accepted that only
about 30-35% of those sexually abused ever report their abuse that the
actual number of clergy abusers is much higher.
2. The Catholic Church authorities have regularly claimed that
there are a significant number of false claims and false accusations.
This assertion is often used by the bishops and by state Catholic
conferences in their strategies to defeat any attempts at legislative
3. No Catholic diocese nor any other source asserting that there
have been significant numbers of false claims has provided any
documentary evidence. In fact no one who has said that there are a
great number of false claims has even produced any anecdotal or
4. Some have claimed that the legislative “window” which was
opened in California resulted in a flood of false claims. In fact there
were about 1200 new civil suits alleging sexual abuse as a result of the
window. Of that number about 800-850 were claims against a Roman
Catholic diocese of Religious Order. The attorneys who represented the
claimants reported that there were only 3 claims that were false. These
were instances when the person alleging abuse was actually making a
5. There have been thousands of civil suits in the United States
alone since 1985. The majority of these have been filed since 2002.
Most of these end in settlement arrived at either through mediation or
through decisions reached by the parties and their lawyers. A
significant number of cases have been dismissed by the courts. None
have been dismissed as a false claim. All have been dismissed because
of the Statute of Limitations. This means that the plaintiff did not
file the claim within the prescribed time limits as set by the State
6. Most (probably all) attorneys who have represented persons
claiming sexual abuse by a clergy or religious put the prospective
client through a thorough screening interview. There are instances when
attorneys have decided not to represent clients. In the majority of
cases that I am aware of the reason was that the attorney determined
that the case was barred by the Statute or would be difficult or
impossible to prove for other reasons.
7. There is a fundamental difference between an intentional
false claim and a mistaken claim. A false claim is essentially a lie.
A mistaken claim is a belief by a person that he or she had been
sexually abused when in fact that action upon which this claim was based
turned out not to be a sexual gesture in any form. There have been
cases when people believed they had been sexually abused when in fact
the belief was based only on fantasy or totally subjective perception.
For example one person I knew of believed a priest had sexually abused
her when it turned out she had imagined the abuse solely because he had
looked at her. There have been other cases when an accidental touch was
exaggerated by a person when in fact it was no more than a touch with no
sexual overtones or intent. In nearly all of the instances of this
nature the claimant has been found to have some degree of mental or
8. There have been many instances when the accused cleric has
denied the allegation or downgraded the report to a misunderstanding.
In nearly all such cases when a proper investigation is carried out it
has been determined that the report of sexual abuse was accurate.