An Associated Press investigation found that some 1700 priests and other clergy accused of child sexual abuse live "with little or no supervision" from authorities decades after the Catholic Church scandal.
According to the AP, these priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach math in secondary education, advise victims of sexual assault, work as nurses and volunteer in nonprofit organizations to help at-risk children, live near nurseries and day care centers. and take care of children.
And since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possession of child pornography, according to AP analysis.
A recent effort by Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States to publish the names of those they hold accused has opened a window to the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who were often never criminally charged and, in many cases, expelled or left the church for live as a free citizen.
Each diocese sets its own standard for considering a credible accused priest, with allegations ranging from inappropriate conversation and unwanted embraces to sodomy and forced rape.
So far, dioceses and religious orders have shared the names of more than 5,100 clergy, with more than three-quarters of the names released last year alone.
The PA surveyed the nearly 2,000 who remain alive to determine where they lived and worked – the largest-scale review to date of what happened to priests named as potential sex offenders.
In addition to the nearly 1700 that AP could identify as largely unsupervised, there were 76 that could not be located.
Some members of the clergy were detected with some supervision, others in prison or supervised by church programs.
The analysis found that hundreds of priests held positions of trust, many with access to children.
More than 160 continued to work or volunteer in churches, including dozens in Catholic dioceses abroad or in other regions.
Approximately 190 obtained professional licenses to work in education, medicine, social work and counseling – including 76 who in August still had valid credentials in these fields.