Sunday, December 21, 2003

Survivors First Database on Catholic Sex Offenders

At around the same time The Awareness Center started creating a sex offender registry of alleged and convicted sex offenders regarding Jewish offenders, a Catholic organization started doing the same thing.

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.


Survivors First Database on Catholic Sex Offenders

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
  1. The Priests Database at 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 no more. 

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. We do not list the victim's name or the current address or phone number of a priest

  7. 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.

  8. 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.
 This website is maintained by survivors, their supporters and dedicated Catholics.

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