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State's Two Dioceses Have Had 44 Priest Abuse Accusations Since 1950

Feb 17, 2004 | AP

In early February Montana's two Roman Catholic dioceses released details about claims of abuse against children by priests in the state.

Figures from the Helena Diocese showed it has paid nearly $3.7 million in settlements, legal costs and counseling for priests and victims since 1950.

The diocese didn't provide specific breakdowns of those costs.

The spokesman said that since 1950, nine priests were accused of abusing a total of 24 minors. Seven allegations against two priests were proven to be false, he said.

Some of the accused priests denied the charges, and others admitted them, he said. Other accusations came after the priest in question had died, so they couldn't be verified, he said.

A spokesman said at the time that the last known incidence of abuse by a priest in the Helena Diocese occurred before 1990. Most happened between 1960 and the early 1980s, he said.

The Great Falls-Billings Diocese reported that 13 priests had been accused of sexually abusing 20 children.

Two cases were "groundless or are based on inusfficient evidence," according to a diocese statement.

Thirteen of the incidents occurred before 1980, according to the diocese.

The Great Falls-Billings Diocese reported that since 1950 it had paid out over $674,000 to settle abuse cases.

That included $95,000 paid by the diocese, $515,000 by its insurance carrier, $45,000 to counsel victims and priests and $19,300 in legal fees, according to the diocese.

According to Associated Press reports, a draft of the upcoming national survey of sex abuse claims against Roman Catholic priests has been viewed by CNN, which reported Monday that 4,450 clergy have been accused of molesting minors since 1950.

The draft survey said 11,000 abuse claims have been filed against the U.S. churchmen during that period, CNN reported.

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