In a Pennsylvania grand jury report released earlier this month, more than 300 Catholic priests across the state were said to have sexually abused 1,000 children over seven decades with leaders of the Catholic church covering it up. The Pennsylvania investigation was one of the broadest inquiries into church sex abuse in U.S. history.
Tina Kasey, Director of Communications at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Owensboro, believes the recent Pennsylvania scandal has lead to a higher number of victims coming forward about abuse within the church.
Kasey confirmed two victims have recently come forth alleging sexual abuse by priests. According to Kasey, the accused priests are deceased and the victims alleging the abuse are elderly.
The names of the two priests and the victims have not been released. It is not clear whether the allegations of sexual abuse came from Owensboro residents, nor is it clear if the accused priests were from Owensboro. The diocese covers all of Western Kentucky, but the bishop for the region resides in Owensboro.
Kasey said the 2002 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” requires the diocese to reveal information to the Commonwealth regarding sexual abuse in the church.
“Our policy is we report it when anyone comes forward,” Kasey said. “If there’s anybody who hasn’t come forward, please do. Our whole thing is we want you to be able to heal from this.”
The diocese website lists a private number that victims of abuse, recent or long past, can call. They can speak to a Pastoral Assistance Coordinator who is able to guide them through the process of revealing such personal information. After that, the diocese will contact the Commonwealth attorney. Victims can also directly report any abuse to local law enforcement.
Diocese of Owensboro’s Bishop William F. Medley released a statement earlier this month addressing the 884-page report on the Pennsylvania grand jury’s investigation that concluded sexual abuse occurred throughout the state.
“I would have liked to suggest that the exposure of the sins of the Church have proven to make children safer across all of society, but I am not at all sure that the evidence would support such a finding,” Bishop Medley wrote. “I also would have wished to report that even these rarer instances of abuse within the Church have not ever happened in the diocese of Owensboro. But they have. We continue to strive to respond promptly to any concerns and have acted to remove abusers from any positions of responsibility and authority.”