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April 2012

Clergy Sexual Abuse Ten Years Later: A May 11 Conference at Santa Clara University Explores the Status of Reform

A daylong conference being held May 11 at Santa Clara University will explore the findings from a new book, "Sexual Abuses in the Catholic Church, A Decade of Crisis 2002-2012."

SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 27, 2012 — Ten years after the scandal of child sexual abuse by priests rocked the U.S. Catholic Church to its core, has enough been done to protect  children, prevent recurrence, and strengthen institutional accountability and transparency?

The mixed-bag answer to that question is the subject of an upcoming, daylong conference being held May 11 at Santa Clara University. The conference is based on findings from a new book, Sexual Abuses in the Catholic Church, A Decade of Crisis 2002-2012, published in October, 2011 by Praeger.

Supporters of reform take heart that most U.S. dioceses have a “zero tolerance” policy for priests facing credible allegations – even if they are un-adjudicated. They note that allegations have dropped drastically from the peak of the epidemic after the 1970s, and new allegations now number fewer than a dozen a year nationwide. But critics and reformers alike continue to find problems with the lack of oversight or consequence for rogue bishops who refuse to comply with best practices established by the so-called Dallas Charter. And the legacy of clericalism and spotty accountability has been hard to erase.

The conference will feature 13 of 23 authors of the Decade of Crisis book, who were all, in some way, part of the national effort to find justice and healing in the wake of the nationwide scandal. 

The panelists include Karen Terry, Ph.D., the principal investigator for two nationally acclaimed John Jay College of Criminal Justice studies on the nature, scope, and causes of the abuse scandals; Barbara Blaine, who in 1988 founded the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP); Kathleen McChesney, Ph.D., former FBI  executive who was the first executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the United States Conference of Bishops; and SCU Professor Thomas Plante, a consultant on priest sexual abuse who also helps screen seminarians for sexual-abuse proclivities as vice chair of the National Review Board for the U.S.  Bishops’  Protection of Children and Youth office.

Topics to be covered include:

*The relative success of the Dallas Charter (the agreement begun in 1994 setting best-practices for bishops and diocese facing abuse allegations);
*The damage done by the abuse epidemic, to victims, congregations and to innocent clergy;
*An in-depth review of policy changes undertaken by most U.S. dioceses for handling abuse allegations, including screening of seminarians;  “zero tolerance;” changes in formation and treatment protocols.
*Successes and failures in changing church culture
*A discussion on “Where do we go from here?”

The conference is being held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 11, at SCU’s Benson Memorial Center,  500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053. 

The schedule for the day’s events can be found at

The list of panelists can be found at

 Media is invited but pre-registration is required.  All members of the media planning to attend must submit the following information to prior to the event:

•    Name, title, news organization, email, phone number
•    Copy of business card
•    Copy of photo ID from news organization
•    Editor’s name, email, and phone number
•    Freelancers who do not have a business card or ID from a news organization, must submit a signed letter from news organization’s editor. Letter must be on a company letterhead and contain editor’s email and phone number.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse| | 408-554-5121 O | 408-768-6898 C