The difference is that the Survivors First database focused on clergy sexual abuse cases, where The Awareness Center's registry focused on all cases involving sex crimes where either the offender or survivor were Jewish.
Important Notes on Priest Database
This Database was started in November 2002 for five reasons:
- To help survivors find abuser-specific support groups.
We have learned that these groups are very helpful for survivors. Priest-specific
groups exist for Birmingham, Hanley and others. Connecting with a survivor
of the same abuser helps a survivor understand that he or she were not
the only one who was abused (a common misperception by survivors).
- To find more victims by eventually building a list
of parishes in which an abusive priest served to assist reach-out efforts
to survivors. We believe that thousands of survivors have not yet sought
help due to the shame and guilt so often associated with sexual abuse.
- To educate the mainstream Catholics that priests
have actually been convicted (many do not believe that this is the case)
- To help law enforcement and to educate lawmakers.
The Priest Database as been used by grand juries, police and detectives
as a law enforcement tool. It has also been useful in educating lawmakers
of the importance of extending or eliminating the statute of limitations
for sexual abuse, Such reform is the number one legislative goal of
the Survivor Movement.
- To help with Public Safety to keep kids safe. There
are a number of documented cases in which an alleged abuser or convicted
abuser left the church only to abuse children again in a secular setting
because the Bishop did not inform authorities about his behavior.
Important notes about the Priest Database
- The Priests Database at www.SurvivorsFirst.org is not breaking
any new news. It is *reformatting* or "re-reporting" information
that is already in the public realm. No new allegations
are included in this Database, since each allegations has already been
reported by the media.
- The only way an allegation or legal action is entered into the Priest
Database is if it has been reported by a reputable newspaper
or we obtain a copy of a lawsuit or other similar instrument. SF maintains
a file for each priest with a physical copy of the article.
- SF compiles only facts -- the fact of an allegation or legal
action. Since we are re-reporting previously reported information,
this information has already been approved by the legal departments
of respected newspapers (Globe, USA Today, etc.). SF should be judged
with the same criticism that the NY Times, Boston Globe and San Francisco
Chronicle are judged in their reporting of allegations -- no less or
- The Priest Database does not state or imply that
priests with allegations are guilty. It simply reports that
an allegation exists. The U.S. legal system assumes one is innocent
until proven guilty. Civil or private settlements are typically not
admissions of guilt.
- False allegations are extremely rare. According
to the Church's own defense lawyer who has defended the Church against
over 500 lawsuits, false allegations are less than 2% of all allegations
(New York Times Aug. 31, 2002) . Greedy people who want a quick dollar
would have a much better chance for a financial windfall with socially
acceptable fake accidents like slipping on water in a department store,
rather than a socially embarrassing and shame-ridden claim of being
sodomized by a well respected priest. SF is building a list of priests
cleared by a jury trial and welcomes help in finding such cases.
- We do not list the victim's name or the current address or
phone number of a priest.
- Keeping the database accurate and up-to-date is extremely important.
We have 4 volunteers who monitor news sources to keep our database
current and we receive many emails each week with updates and
corrections. We actively welcome emails with corrections and updates
and update the Priest Database on the web site once a month.
- A very important public debate right now is the percentage of priests who are abusers. The Vatican insists that it is less than 1% and equal to averages in other groups. The Priest Database lends facts to this emotional debate. As with any disaster or scandal, it is responsible to estimate the size of the damage. When there is an oil spill, prudent people estimate the number of barrels of oil spilled. The Priest Database is a responsible effort to estimate the extent of sexual abuse in the Church.