The bankruptcy hearings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have revealed more than 8,000 previously unreported instances of alleged sexual abuse of children, according to one attorney representing the victims. The charges cover a span of 60 years and implicate a group of 100 alleged offenders, including nuns, church workers and some 75 priests.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Annysa Johnson writes that 570 "victim-survivors" have filed claims in the case, which is currently before U.S. bankruptcy judge Susan V. Kelley.
At a press conference on the federal courthouse steps in Milwaukee, Peter Isley, director of the Survivors' Network of Those Abused by Priests said, "This is a public safety crisis, a child safety crisis that needs to be investigated. We need to know who they are and where they are. How can there be 8,000 crimes committed by over 100 offenders and there be no accountability?"
On Thursday, the court's actions centered around three cases brought against church officials over instances of abuse from the late 70's and early 80's. Church lawyers argued that the statute of limitations has run out on the crimes. Judge Kelley dismissed one case on grounds that the victim had received a previous settlement from the church, but upheld the other two claims.
Fixing a time-line for the statute of limitations has proven tricky, with church lawyers arguing that the statute clock began ticking at the time of the abuse itself. Advocates for victims maintain that additional crimes took place in 2003 and 2004 when the church allegedly lied upon inquiry by victims about their abusers' history of child sexual abuse at previous postings.
When asked about the new charges, Archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said she did not have enough information to answer the allegations.
(image via Flickr Commons)