Like many states, Missouri has experienced Roman Catholic priests abusing children entrusted to their care. After a year-long investigation, the state’s attorney general Eric Schmitt announced that 12 men are being referred to proper officials for a determination of whether they should be subjected to criminal prosecution.
The investigation and its results
Schmitt said that 163 men who formerly served as a priests or clergy members in one of the State’s four Catholic dioceses were accused of sexual abuse of minors or sexual misconduct against minors.
About 80 of the men named in the investigation’s conclusion are now deceased. In Missouri, the attorney general does not have authority to prosecute individual cases, and each potential defendant must be referred to a local prosecutor.
The church’s early investigations
Before the attorney general released his report, the four dioceses in the state began their own investigations and posted their own list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.
The four lists included a total of about 160 names, strikingly close to the total named by the attorney general.
A spokesperson for the attorney general said that investigators heard from more than 100 victims and that they spoke with 45 victims or their families. One priest had 21 victims who named him to investigators. This incident led investigators to assume that the number of victims is over 100.
Justice for victims
There’s no doubt it will come as some comfort for victims to see their abusers face criminal charges. It’s important to remember that victims may also pursue justice through civil lawsuits.