The number of sex abuse allegations against Catholic clergy members more than quadrupled in 2019 compared to the previous five years, U.S. church officials reported in an annual audit released this week.
The audit looked into reports from 200 dioceses and church entities across the country since 2002, when reports of accusations and cover-ups exploded.
The report, which covered July 2018 through June 2019, counted 4,434 allegations of clergy sex abuse against children. That’s up from 1,451 in 2018, 693 in 2017, 1,318 in 2016 and 903 in 2015.
Of the allegations reported this year, 2,237 were deemed "credible" by the church.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, a church-affiliated research center, found that of the credible allegations of 2019 whose time frame could be determined, 57 percent happened before 1975, 41 percent between 1975 and 1999, and 2 percent since 2000.
The report claims that the small amount of claims made this year compared to others reflects a step in the right direction.
“This audit reflects the efforts of dioceses/eparchies. It highlights gaps and near misses that if left unattended will develop into bigger gaps and larger problems,” wrote Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.
Francesco C. Cesareo, the chairman of the National Review Board, said that the church needs to find a more independent audit from a non-church affiliated group.
The current audit is done with self-reported data from churches, who also determine what allegations are credible.