Clergy abuse scandal goes back decades

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- The Catholic Church scandal has been making a lot of headlines in the last couple years but it goes back more than three decades.

It would be almost impossible to say when the first accusation of sexual abuse by clergy was made, but we know the church opened a treatment center for troubled priests in 1947.

The first major criminal case didn't come to light until almost 40-years later.
What's believed to be the first criminal case involving a pedophile priest happened in Louisiana.

Gilbert Gauthe was indicted on 34 counts of sex crimes against children. He pleaded guilty in 1986 and was sentenced to 20-years in prison.

Eleven years later, a jury in Dallas awarded 119-million dollars to 11-survivors of clergy sex abuse.

That case led to the creation of Bishop-accountability.org
-- a database of the sex abuse crisis that's still updated Friday.

The crisis burst into the national consciousness in January of 2002 when the Boston Globe broke the story that the church was moving known pedophiles from parish to parish instead of de-frocking him.

It was eventually turned into the Oscar-winning movie "Spotlight' -- named after the paper's investigative unit.

The attention helped convince more survivors to come forward, and follow-up investigations uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse by clergy and coverups by church leaders around the world.

Thousands of priests have been accused... More than $1 billion has been paid out by the church to survivors and several catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy.

In 2008 Pope Benedict the 16th issued a formal apology on behalf of the church to the victims.

Pope Francis wrote a 2,000 word apology last year following the release of a grand jury report confirming more than 1,000 children were abused by priests in Pennsylvania alone.

We're starting to get an idea of the scale of the abuse by Catholic Clergy.

Bishop-accountability.org looked at data from the "U.S. conference of catholic bishops".

It concluded 6,8000 priests have been credibly accused of sexual assault.

It also says there are at least 19,000 survivors in the United States.

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