The Associated Press has recently concluded the largest-scale review of where former members of the Roman Catholic Church, who were removed from their positions due to varying degrees of sexual misconduct with children, have ended-up within our society.
More than 5,000 Clergy Identified as Sexual Abusers of Children
Since the systemic patterns of allowing and covering-up allegations of child sex abuse within the Archdiocese of Boston were made public in the early 2000’s, more than 5,000 members of clergy across the country have been identified by the church as having been credibly accused of child sex abuse; accusations that range from inappropriate behavior or conversations with children, sexual molestation or rape.
500 Clergy Live Near Schools, Despite Allegations of Child Sex Abuse
Nearly 1,700 of those former clergy are alive today and living within society. Most live with very little or no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, regardless of the serious nature of the allegations that led to their removal from the church. Unfortunately, whether those individuals end up in positions with a proximity to children after being laicized from the priesthood is not a concern that church leadership has bothered with. The AP report identified 500 disgraced former clergy members as living within 2000 feet of schools or other facilities that serve children during their nearly year-long investigation.
Laicized Clergy Continue to Prey Upon Society Years Later
The AP report identified defrocked priest, Roger Sinclair as a disturbing example of the further trauma pedophiles have wrought upon society after leaving the church. Allegations of sexual misconduct with children by Sinclair date back to 1981, when two mothers of 14-year old boys who alleged to have been molested by the priest, alerted the bishop of his behavior at St. Mary’s Parish in Pennsylvania. The church sent Sinclair for “treatment”, employing a common method used by the church of removing a priest accused of child sex abuse from his position and transferring him to another, without ex-communicating the individual permanently.
Sinclair would eventually end up at now-closed Topeka State Hospital, a mental institution which housed a wing specifically for young boys. He was removed from his position in 1991 after administrators concluded he had, “gained access to a locked unit deceitfully.” In 2002, he was removed from the Diocese of Greensburg and chose to resign before proceedings to defrock him were concluded. Because no criminal charges were ever filed against him, Sinclair was able to secure a position on the board of directors and as a volunteer at a senior center in Oregon, where in 2017 he was arrested for molesting a developmentally disabled young man and is now imprisoned. Sinclair admitted to his crimes in Oregon as well as the crimes he had committed during his time in the priesthood in the 1980’s.
Many Defrocked Priests with Histories of Child Sex Abuse Live Among Us, Few Face Criminal Charges
The case of Roger Sinclair, and the others documented by the AP, illuminate the cracks within our society that former clergy, with credible accusations of child sex abuse, fall into. Only 310 of the nearly 1700 laicized clergy were charged with crimes while still directly associated with the church and 65 were charged with crimes after their removal. Unless an individual with a history of allegations of child sexual abuse is on the radar of law enforcement or under direct supervision of the church, there is almost no assurance that the predator can be prevented from abusing again in the future.
These are facts that are disturbing to many and utterly infuriating to survivors of clergy abuse, as well as to advocates such as Paul Mones, who has dedicated much of his life to exposing the long-history of pedophilia within the church and fighting for the victims who have suffered at their hands. If you or someone near to you has been victimized by clergy or former clergy, please contact us and make the first step to obtaining the justice you deserve.