DIOCESE OF BOISE ID
“We regret that any child or young person was ever abused by someone working in the name of the church,” Driscoll wrote in Friday editions of the Idaho Catholic Register. “We also want to do all in our power to cleanse the church, to restore trust and to protect children and young people.”
Driscoll did not immediately return a phone message left Friday by The Associated Press.
The 12 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse represented 2.8 percent of the 422 priests that worked in the diocese in the half century. That was about par with other dioceses around the country, he said.
The church did not name the priests, though one case is a matter of public record.
“Many are deceased,” said diocese spokeswoman Colette Cowman, who declined to say which parishes they had served on a permanent basis or during temporary visits.
The figures were made public prior to the Feb. 27 national release by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice studying child sexual abuse by Catholic priests over half a century.
“Most of the incidents happened many years ago,” Driscoll wrote. “Of the 21 incidents reported, two occurred in the 1950s, two in the 1960s, 11 in the 1970s and five in the 1980s. The last known incident took place in 1996.”
As recent as 2002, Driscoll said none of the 45 priests in the Idaho Diocese was under investigation for sexual misconduct.
The diocese has taken a pastoral approach with the victims, offering them counseling, spiritual assistance and medical treatment when necessary, he said.
Driscoll said the diocese has determined that about $140,000 was paid out over the years for counseling, medical treatment, one settlement and legal expenses. The money came from insurance and investments.
No Idaho parish or Idaho Catholic Appeal donations were used to pay for sexual abuse claims, he said.
Of the 12 priests, five were diocesan priests, six were from other dioceses or religious orders who came to Idaho for a limited time, and one was a seminarian who was later ordained in another diocese before the allegations against him surfaced.
Of the five diocesan priests, three have died. One has been retired for 10 years and “has committed himself to a life of prayer and penance,” Driscoll wrote.
The other resigned more than 10 years ago immediately after the accusation was made.
The Rev. Mel Baltazar pleaded guilty in 1984 to lewd conduct with a 15-year-old boy he met while serving as chaplain at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Prosecutors dropped additional abuse charges in return for the plea.
He served more than three years of a seven-year prison term before being paroled in 1988.
Damage lawsuits were filed against Baltazar and the church by parents of two of the priest´s alleged victims. One was settled for what the family attorney said was “several thousand dollars.” The other was dismissed.
Another priest was disciplined after child pornography was found on his computer, but the case against the Rev. Dominic Nguyen was not one of the 12, Cowman said.
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