It is an alarming and incontrovertible fact: False abuse accusations against Catholic priests, which have always been present, are on the rise. The mainstream media rarely runs stories about false accusations, and there are groups – especially the anti-Catholic group SNAP – who are desperate to hide the shocking truth about false accusations from the public.
What are the facts about Catholic sex abuse and false accusations? Consider:
- A veteran Los Angeles attorney who has worked on over 100 clergy abuse cases recently declared:
"One retired F.B.I. agent who worked with me to investigate many claims in the Clergy Cases told me, in his opinion, about ONE-HALF of the claims made in the Clergy Cases were either entirely false or so greatly exaggerated that the truth would not have supported a prosecutable claim for childhood sexual abuse."
- Over an 18-month period in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Archdiocesan the review board – comprised largely of law enforcement and lay experts on abuse – "did not find that probable cause of sexual abuse of a minor had occurred" in 45% of the cases it thoroughly examined, again suggesting about half of the claims were bogus;
- Last year in the United States, nearly half (45%) of all priests accused of abuse were long-ago deceased and thus unable to deny the charges – and this percentage continues to rise every year;
- In weighing the costs of fighting lawsuits versus settling them, dioceses routinely pay out sizable settlements even for abuse claims against long-dead priests whose records were completely unblemished when they were alive and where accusations were never even substantiated.
Therefore, contingency lawyers have been incentivized to bring claims against dioceses which are either completely bogus or greatly exaggerated, or to seek outsized sums for minor claims.
Over the recent past, we have cataloged a shocking number bogus cases against Catholic priests, but clearly this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Lone voices in the media wilderness: Acknowledging the fraudAnd indeed it is rare that the issue of false accusations against priests is even acknowledged in the mainstream media. Over the past dozen years, we have located only a couple of passing mentions in the media.
In truth, the media is structured in such a way that few reporters, editors, or columnists are ever brave enough to pursue a story which runs counter to the accepted narrative on an issue.
In 2010, Vincent Carroll at the Denver Post fearlessly noted, "[F]raudulent or highly dubious accusations are more common than is acknowledged in coverage of the church scandals — although they should not be surprising, given the monumental settlements various dioceses have paid out over the years."
In 2005, Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal, writing about abuse lawsuits against the Church, asserted, "People have to come to understand that there is a large scam going on with personal injury attorneys, and what began as a serious effort [to help genuine victims] has now expanded to become a huge money-making proposition."
In addition, in 2001 (!), an East Coast attorney wrote, "I have some contacts in the prison system, having been an attorney for some time, and it has been made known to me that [accusing a Catholic priest of abuse] is a current and popular scam."
Who knows how many more such scams are being perpetrated today while the mainstream media sleeps?
We may never know unless a news organization is finally brave enough to run with a counter-narrative and expose the ever-widening scandal of bogus claims against priests.