Colorado Attorney General Releases Scathing Investigative Report on Sexual Abuse in Catholic Church

On October 23, 2019, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office released its investigative report on clergy sexual abuse in Colorado’s three Catholic Dioceses including the handling of these claims.

The Attorney General’s investigation, headed by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, found that the dioceses knew of more than 160 children were sexually abused by 43 priests over the last 70 years.  We believe this number is far lower than the actual number of victims.  The Attorney General’s office did not use subpoena power or search warrants. Instead, they relied on the Dioceses and their legal teams to self-report only those claims which they believed were “substantiated” after manually reviewing personnel files and other records.  Further, Religious Order priests — which represent one-third of all priests nationally – were excluded from the report.   Similarly, seminarians who abused and later became priests were excluded from the report as were those who abused vulnerable adults.

The Attorney General’s office also noted that the the Catholic Church often used euphemisms in their personnel records to describe sexual abuse or pedophile so unless the Diocese researcher was familiar with the euphemisms, those claims also would not be reported. By relying on the self-reporting by an organization who was historically disingenuous or flat-out dishonest when it came to child abuse reports, the Attorney General’s data should be expected to be far lower than the actually numbers.

The Attorney’s General’s report was in many cases also critical of the  impartiality of the Dioceses’ internal review boards who investigate allegations of sexual abuse and the role of the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator which had potential conflicts of interest.

Horowitz Law’s managing partner, Adam Horowitz, has handled dozens of matters in the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Pueblo.  When asked for comment on the Attorney General’s report, Horowitz told Colorado Public Radio:

“There will be many people who are angry. They thought it was just something that happened in their parish or their priest,” said Adam Horowitz, a Florida attorney currently representing a dozen people pursuing compensation fund claims against the church in Colorado. He also represented people in civil cases against the Denver archdiocese, including about White.

“I think the magnitude of the scandal will be exposed. This touched on nearly every parish in the diocese, every community in the state … almost every parish had a perpetrator come through.”

And other investigations, he said, have overlooked one of the most important questions: Who let this happen?

“I think that there should be a focus on not just the perpetrators but also the enablers,” he said. “Some of the enablers may still be in the priesthood.”

Notably, the most prolific abusers identified in the Attorney General Report are Harold Robert White with 63 victims and Leonard Abercrombie with 19 victims.

The Archdiocese of Denver, Diocese of Colorado Springs, and Diocese of Pueblo have all agreed to participate in a voluntary settlement fund called the Independent Reparations and Reconciliation Program (IRRP).  All claims must be registered with the fund by November 30, 2019. 

For more information on the Archdiocese of Denver, click here.

For more information on the Diocese of Pueblo, click here.

For more information on the Diocese of Colorado Springs, click here.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Denver in Colorado.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Colorado, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Denver now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.

Contact us at (888) 283-9922 or adam@adamhorowitzlaw.com to discuss your options today.