Convictions in 2% of child abuse claims against orders

Just 2% of allegations of child abuse against eight male religious orders have resulted in a criminal conviction, according to an inspection body.

A series of reports published yesterday documented a total of 325 allegations since 1941, involving a total of 141 priests or brothers — resulting in eight convictions.

The National Board For Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church said that of the 79 allegations against Jesuits, 72% were reported to gardaí and none resulted in a conviction.

It criticised the Rosminian order, saying that 57 of the 98 allegations against its members were reported to gardaí more than two years after the complaint.

The board published 43 audit reports — on eight male religious orders and 35 female religious orders.

Overall, it said there was a “striking” difference in how cases were managed before and after 2009, when the Church introduced standards and guidelines.

It said that while there had been historically “an absence of compassionate response”, there was now “a determination to respond pastorally” and report allegations to civil authorities and seek guidance.

Of the 325 allegations:

  • 98 involved the Rosminians (against 43 members), all of which were reported to gardaí, resulting in four convictions;
  • 79 involved the Jesuits (against 36 members), 57 of which were reported, resulting in zero convictions;
  • 72 involved the Capuchins (against 21 members), all of which were reported, resulting in two convictions.

In relation to the 22 allegations to the Jesuits which were not referred to gardaí, a spokesman for the order said they included, as the report states, “complaints and expressions of concern”, and that every allegation requiring reporting had been referred.

All but one of the 325 allegations related to the period 1941 and 1995.

In relation to the 43 female orders, the board said those who had allegations against them had dealt with them appropriately. It said the orders recognised that previous care of children was “often harsh”.

In relation to the Jesuits, it said just eight of the 36 members against whom complaints had been made were still alive. It said there were “deficits” in the actions taken by the order in cases where the DPP directed no prosecutions and said internal investigations should have been initiated.

The report added: “Prior to 2009 the vast majority of allegations coming to the attention of the Rosminians were not reported to civil child protection agencies.”


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