Final State Report Concludes More Than 200 Colorado Children Were Abused By Priests, Catholic Church Vows Reform

 cpr.org  12/01/2020 14:48:45 

Updated 7:50 a.m.

Fifty-two Catholic priests who served in Colorado during the last half of the 20th century victimized more than 200 children in that time, according to a sweeping final report on priest sexual abuse released by state officials Tuesday.

But investigators note the church has agreed to large-scale reform.

The 93-page report is the last product of 22 months of work by independent investigators working at the behest of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Led by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer, the group interviewed hundreds of people and analyzed thousands of documents in an attempt to furnish an accurate  and complete  reckoning of 70 years of priest sex abuse in Colorado.

Investigators first published a preliminary report more than a year ago, detailing painful accounts of abuse at the hands of priests in the state for more than four decades. Tuesdays report comes after more victims came forward after the first report.

It adds more details, increases the number of victims, and names several additional priests accused of abuse in Denver and Pueblo -- including a high profile Denver priest who started several homeless shelters.

We cannot overstate the courage it takes for victims to recount their abuse, the report said. No one helped us more than the victims themselves. We hope the First Report and this Supplemental Report honor the courage, suffering, sacrifice, and healing of all the victims of clergy child sex abuse.

The nearly two-year probe, launched by Weiser upon his election in 2018, also aimed to change what Colorados dioceses are doing to be safer for children, both now and in the future  including putting into place child-abuse prevention and protection systems.

Those reforms include suspending any priest accused of child sexual misconduct and providing victim-assistance coordinators to anyone who comes forward with an accusation. Each diocese also has substantially improved its records system to facilitate child abuse reporting and coordination with law enforcement.

Most significantly, Colorado dioceses have committed to regular audits of their child-protection systems.

These important improvements appear to be sound, the report said. At this point, though, they are largely untested.

The final numbers, which Attorney General Phil Weiser is scheduled to address on Dec. 1, include 46 additional incidents of abuse of children, 37 boys and nine girls, by 25 diocesan priests in Colorado that werent previously reported.

Sixteen of the 46 newly reported victims were abused by priests who had already been identified to the relevant diocese as a child sex abuser, the report said.

Nine of those priests were previously unreported in the states first accounting. They are Father Kenneth Funk, Father Daniel Kelleher, Father James Moreno, Father Gregory Smith and Father Charles Woodrich, from the Denver Archdiocese and Monsignor Marvin Kapushion, Father Duane Repola, Father Carlos Trujillo and Father Joseph Walsh of Pueblo.

Woodrich was known as "Father Woody" who opened the Samaritan House on 23rd and Lawrence. He also launched the Haven of Hope, on 7th and Lipan Streets, which doled out lunches to people every day. Woodrich was hailed as the "patron saint" for the homeless and the poor and he died in the 1990s.

Three victims, all boys, stepped forward saying Woodrich groomed them while they attended Holy Ghost Parish in Denver, forcing them to engage in sexual contact, oral sex and anal sex, according to the report.

The three victims reported the abuse after the priest was dead and it did not appear that the Denver Archdiocese received any reports on Woodrich engaging in sexual misconduct.

In a statement, Weiser said, while painful, he hoped the report brought meaningful change to how Colorado dioceses protect children from abuse.

I recognize there isnt one program or dollar amount that can make up for the trauma that many have been through in their lives, Weiser said. But my sincerest hope is that this unique Colorado program has allowed survivors of sexual abuse by a priest to take one more step on the path to healing and recovery.

The incidents of abuse, including the newest revelations, took place between 1951 and 1999, with the majority of the abuse occurring in the 1960s, according to the report.

Colorados Catholic dioceses announced in October they have already paid out $6.6 million to settle abuse claims, as part of the state investigation.

At the time, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila said he wanted to meet with all of the survivors who participated in the program, so he could offer a personal apology.

I am deeply sorry for the pain and hurt that was caused by the abuse you suffered, Aquila wrote to the archdiocese community. I remain steadfastly committed to meeting with any survivor who desires to meet with me and doing everything I can so that the problems of the past never repeat themselves.

« Go back