Understanding the Report

The Independent Review is now complete, and the written report covers 70 years of files and allegations of sexual abuse dating back to 1950. Special Master Robert Troyer interviewed survivors, priests, experts, victim advocates, safe environment staff, and others as part of his investigation and fact-finding efforts. He met with experts in the field of child abuse prevention. In addition, the Attorney General’s office set up a phone line and encouraged survivors to come forward. We should all be comforted that this investigation spanned seven decades, has been thorough and is transparent.

Below are some important findings from the report:

1

Known Incidents of sexual abuse of minors in the report

There are nine cases from the 1950s to the 1970s, and one case from the 1990s, without a specific date.

2

The review identified no diocesan priests in active ministry in the Archdiocese with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a minor. The report also found no substantiated reports of sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests in the Archdiocese within the past 20 years.  The last substantiated incident of abuse across all three dioceses was 1998 (and that priest is in prison and the case was handled properly by the Archdiocese).

3

Over 60-percent of the abuse was committed by two former priests – H. Robert White and Leonard Abercrombie. And roughly 75-percent of the abuse was committed by four former priests – White, Abercrombie, Neil Hewitt and John Holloway – none of whom have been in ministry for the last 26 years.

4

The review found nearly 90-percent of the known abuse happened more than 40 years ago (1950-1979). This is consistent with every study of the sexual abuse scandal in the Church. You can view the chart above to see a visual of when all known incidents occured or began.

5

Of the 22 priests, 15 of them are dead and none of the other seven are assigned in active ministry. The most recent substantiated allegation in the report was perpetrated by Timothy Evans in 1998. Evans has been laicized and remains in prison. You can see a full list of the offenders below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the Independent Review?

Former U.S. Attorney Robert Troyer was given full access to 70 years of diocesan files concerning the sexual abuse of minors by diocesan priests—including the so-called “secret archive” files—and the opportunity to interview victims, priests, and other witnesses. His report included an analysis of the diocese’s policies related to preventing and responding to sexual abuse of minors; the dioceses’ compliance with Colorado law requiring the mandatory reporting to law enforcement of abuse allegations; a list of all diocesan priests that are the subject of one or more substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor since 1950.

Why did the Archdiocese agree to the Independent Review?

There were four goals: (1) To publicly acknowledge this history of sexual abuse, and in doing so provide a moment of justice for any survivor and encourage others to come forward; (2) To assure the Attorney General, public and members of the Archdiocese – clergy and laity – that no diocesan priest known to sexually abuse a minor is in active ministry; (3) To identify any needed improvements to our policies and procedures to ensure they are of the highest standard; (4) To allow the  thousands of people who are working to make the Archdiocese a safe environment for children to see the progress of their work.

What was the scope of the Independent Review?

The review focused on all diocesan and extern priests who have served in the Archdiocese between 1950 and today. While religious order priests often serve in our parishes, they report to a different religious superior who maintains their files and handles allegations of misconduct.

What did the Independent Review find?

For the Archdiocese of Denver, the review identifies 21 diocesan and one extern priest who were responsible for more than 120 substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. For some context: the most recent case was in 1999 and no substantiated allegations were found against any current diocesan or extern priest in ministry. Nearly 90-percent of the known abuse happened more than 40 years ago (1950-1979 – see chart below). Over 60-percent of the abuse was committed by two former priests – H. Robert White and Leonard Abercrombie. And roughly 75-percent of the abuse was committed by four former priests – White, Abercrombie, Neil Hewitt and John Holloway – none of whom have been in ministry for the last 26 years.

What is the status of the priests named in the report?

Of the 22 priests, 15 of them are dead and none of the other seven are in active ministry. The most recent substantiated allegation in the report was perpetrated by Timothy Evans in 1999. Evans has been laicized and remains in prison. More details in the FULL FAQ.

Are my children safe in Catholic parishes or schools?

Yes. The policies and procedures that have been implemented and strengthened over the last three decades have shown to be effective. Every priest, deacon, employee and volunteer who works with children must pass a background check and attend safe-environment training to be educated on preventing, spotting and responding to potential abuse. We currently have 14,000 trained mandatory reporters, and every year approximately 20,000 children are taught how to keep themselves safe. We have also strengthened our seminary screening and formation process to better prepare our future priests.

What happens next?

The archdiocese will immediately work to implement the recommendations of the report, most of which deal with how we investigate historical allegations and respond to survivors who are now adults. To our faithful: we would encourage you to attend one of the safe environment training classes that are required for our priests, deacons, employees and volunteers who work with children. We would also encourage you to find ways to support your current priests, who far too often are judged as guilty by association. Finally, we should all continue to pray for the healing of everyone impacted by sexual abuse.

List of Offenders

1

Leonard Abercrombie

  • Date of Birth: 6/27/1921
  • Date of Ordination: 6/1/1946
  • Status: Deceased: 10/23/1994

2

Robert Banigan

  • Date of Birth: 1/14/1916
  • Date of Ordination: 6/7/1941
  • Status: Deceased: 5/6/1986

3

Thomas Barry

  • Date of Birth: 11/23/1905
  • Date of Ordination: 6/3/1939
  • Status: Deceased: 4/1/2003

4

Joseph Bosetti

  • Date of Birth: 1/1/1886
  • Date of Ordination: 8/2/1908
  • Status: Deceased: 1/22/1954

5

Charles Brown

  • Date of Birth: 3/26/1932
  • Date of Ordination: 5/31/1958
  • Status: Excardinated to Archdiocese of New Mexico in 1987

6

Timothy Evans

  • Date of Birth: 9/25/1962
  • Date of Ordination: 6/5/1993
  • Status: In Prison; Laicized: 5/3/2013

7

Edward Fraczkowski

  • Date of Birth: 11/7/1910
  • Date of Ordination: 06/11/1938
  • Status: Deceased: 11/19/1973

8

Neil Hewitt

  • Date of Birth: 2/21/1936
  • Date of Ordination: 5/26/1962
  • Status: Left Priesthood & Faculties Withdrawn: 3/6/1980

9

John Holloway

  • Date of Birth: 10/9/1918
  • Date of Ordination: 6/4/1955
  • Status: Deceased: 12/10/1982

10

Delisle Lemieux

  • Date of Birth: 7/3/1902
  • Date of Ordination: 12/21/1926
  • Status: Deceased: 10/21/1977

11

John McGinn

  • Date of Birth: 4/13/1927
  • Date of Ordination: 6/7/1952
  • Status: Deceased: 9/3/2002

12

Francis Pettit

  • Date of Birth: 5/21/1910
  • Date of Ordination: 7/6/1936
  • Status: Deceased: 1/7/1987

13

James Rasby

  • Date of Birth: 5/13/1925
  • Date of Ordination: 6/7/1952
  • Status: Deceased: 7/23/2014

14

Leonard Scezney

  • Date of Birth: 3/30/1953
  • Date of Ordination: 6/1/1985
  • Status: Faculties Withdrawn: 3/2/1992

15

John Harley Schmitt

  • Date of Birth: 6/3/1914
  • Date of Ordination: 5/18/1940
  • Status: Deceased: 6/25/2003

16

Lawrence St. Peter

  • Date of Birth: 5/8/1929
  • Date of Ordination: 6/6/1959
  • Status: Deceased: 08/18/2003

17

John Stein

  • Date of Birth: 5/6/1917
  • Date of Ordination: 5/29/1943
  • Status: Deceased: 11/16/2001

18

George Weibel

  • Date of Birth: 3/2/1922
  • Date of Ordination: 5/30/1948
  • Status: Deceased: 11/1/2008

19

Robert Whipkey

  • Date of Birth: 10/26/1953
  • Date of Ordination: 6/4/1983
  • Status: Removed from ministry: 06/01/2007

20

Harold Robert White

  • Date of Birth: 3/4/1933
  • Date of Ordination: 6/4/1960
  • Status: Deceased: 11/14/2006

21

Thomas Woerth

  • Date of Birth: 10/27/1939
  • Date of Ordination: 5/28/1966
  • Status: Retired: 6/15/2005; Faculties Withdrawn: 3/6/2019

22

Rafael Jairo Calle

  • Date of Birth: Unknown
  • Date of Ordination: Unknown
  • Status: Removed from ministry in 1997

Read the Full Report

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