The USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus has released a list of 50 Jesuit priests facing credible allegations of sexual abuse involving a minor or vulnerable adult since 1950, amid continuing efforts to shed light on widespread sexual abuse linked the Catholic Church.
The list (PDF) was released on January 15, including data from a region that covers portions of New England and New York.
Of the 50 priests listed, only 14 are still alive. All of the allegations occurred before 1997, but most of the allegations have been reported since 2002.
The release comes at a time when Catholic church sex abuse claims are mounting nationwide, and there is increasing pressure for related organizations to become more transparent and accountable for the behavior of priests or others placed in a position of trust and authority over minors.
In August, a grand jury report highlighted cases involving at least 90 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse in the Pittsburgh area, involving allegations and cover-ups that spanned decades.
That report indicated that the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania covered up abuse involving priests who abused more than 1,000 victims, mostly children, over the course of 70 years. After 90 of those priests were identified, it sparked investigations by the Justice Department and states’ attorneys general nationwide.
The scandal has reignited concerns that existed for decades regarding the church’s alleged efforts to cover up sex abuse by priests by shuffling them from one parish to another and preventing police involvement.
“At the heart of this crisis is the painful, sinful and illegal harm done to children by those whom they should have been able to trust,” John J. Cecero, S.J., the provincial of the Northeast Province, said in a statement. “We did not know any best practices to handle these violations many decades ago and regrettably made mistakes along the way.”
Earlier this month, an attorney representing a number of victims announced that the Catholic Church had agreed to settle at least five sexual abuse lawsuits brought against a former priest in New Jersey.
Cecero apologized to the priests victims on behalf of all Jesuits, and urged anyone who had experienced sex abuse by a Jesuit priest to step forward and report their claim.