What’s Inside The Colorado Attorney General’s Special Report On Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser speaks about the special master’s report on clergy abuse at the Colorado Judicial Center, Oct. 23, 2019.

The independent review of Colorado church records from the dioceses of Colorado, Denver and Pueblo was announced in February by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Attorney General Phil Weiser. The goal was to determine which priests had credible allegations of sexual abuse against them.

The report, released Wednesday, found that more than 160 children were sexually victimized by 43 priests over 70 years and that the state's three dioceses spent decades trying to cover that abuse up.

Colorado’s Catholic churches voluntarily participated in the review conducted by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. No allegations that arose in the records review or investigation were referred to any Colorado District Attorney’s Office.

Select Highlights From The Report:

  • “It is more likely than not that from 1950 to the present there have been at least 127 children victimized by 22 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Denver, at least 3 children victimized by 2 Roman Catholic priests in the Diocese of Colorado Springs, and at least 36 children victimized by 19 Roman Catholic priests in the Diocese of Pueblo. Thus, over the last 70 years in Colorado, a total of at least 166 children have been victimized by 43 Roman Catholic priests.”
  • “Just 5 of those Colorado priests sexually abused 102 of those 166 Children.”
  • “97 of Colorado’s 166 child victims were sexually abused after the Colorado Dioceses were on notice that the priests were child sex abusers.”
  • “The most recent clergy child sex abuse — that victims have reported and that Colorado’s Dioceses have recorded in their files — occurred when a Denver priest sexually abused 4 children in 1998.”
  • “Historically on average it took 19.5 years before a Colorado Diocese concretely restricted an abusive priest’s authority after receiving an allegation that he was sexually abusing children.”
  • “Out of almost 100 opportunities to do so since 1950, the Colorado Dioceses voluntarily reported clergy child sex abuse to law enforcement fewer than 10 times.”
  • “Arguably the most urgent question asked of our work is this: are there Colorado priests currently in ministry who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children? The direct answer is only partially satisfying: we know of none, but we also know we cannot be positive there are none.”
  • “Roman Catholic clergy child sex abuse in Colorado peaked in the 1960s and appears to have declined since...Specifically, this may suggest that the Colorado Dioceses have solved this problem; however, that would be a false and misleading conclusion. 
  • “Concluding from this Report that clergy child sex abuse is ‘solved’ is inaccurate and will only lead to complacency, which will in turn put more children at risk of sexual abuse.”

Read The Full Report