Diocese issues review of abuse allegations

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(Host) The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has released the results of a review of sexual abuse allegations going back more than 50 years. The review was part of a nationwide study, ordered by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the wake of disclosures of incidents of child sexual abuse by priests in a number of U.S. Catholic Diocese.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) According to the diocese newspaper, the Vermont Catholic Tribune, the review found there were credible allegations of sexual misconduct against 25 Vermont priests and that all of the alleged incidents took place before 1989. The study covers a 53-year period between 1950 and 2002.

About 400 priests served in Vermont over that time. The diocese says there were 31 victims of sexual abuse.

The church says of the priests accused, all but five are now retired or deceased. Four were removed from the priesthood. One, the Reverend John Milanese of Randolph, was cleared in a review by the Vermont attorney general and returned to the ministry.

The diocese reports it has paid $343,000 in victim’s compensation. More than one-third of that money has been in settlements reached in the past year.

The report does not include allegations and settlements involving the former Saint Joseph’s Orphanage in Burlington. More than 100 former residents of the orphanage claimed they were abused by nuns and employees before it closed in 1974.

In comparison to the 25 priests the diocese says have been accused of abuse, the Attorney General’s office says it has received allegations against nearly 40 priests. None have resulted in criminal charges, in many cases due to Vermont’s statute of limitations. There are currently two sexual abuse lawsuits pending against the diocese.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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