Chronology of Major Events in Church Abuse Scandal

Published September 09, 2003

| Associated Press

The following are key dates in the abuse crisis in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church (search):

1985 -- Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe pleads guilty to molestation charges involving 11 boys, drawing national attention to clerical sex abuse for first time.

1992 -- Allegations surface that the Rev. James Porter of Diocese of Fall River, Mass., molested children in five states in the 1960s and 1970s. He pleads guilty the next year to 41 sex assault counts.

1992 -- American bishops acknowledge some church leaders tried to hide abuse and pledge it will not happen again.

1993 -- First lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Dallas in case of priest and accused molester Rudy Kos. Case becomes one of the most notorious abuse scandals in U.S. church history.

1998 -- Kos victims agree to reduced settlement of $31 million with Dallas Diocese.

1999 -- Former Boston-area priest John Geoghan (search) indicted on child rape charges.

Jan. 9, 2002 -- Cardinal Bernard Law (search), Boston archbishop, acknowledges he moved Geoghan from parish to parish despite evidence priest had molested children. Apologizes to Geoghan's victims and promises to bar any abuser from ministry.

Jan. 18, 2002 -- Geoghan convicted of indecent assault and battery for improperly touching a 10-year-old boy. He is later sentenced to 9-to-10 years in prison.

April 8, 2002 -- Personnel file of the Rev. Paul Shanley, 800 pages, released. Outlines claims that he abused children, publicly advocated sex between men and boys, yet continued to receive the archdiocese's support.

April 23, 2002 -- Pope John Paul II convenes emergency summit with U.S. cardinals in Rome on sex abuse crisis.

June 13, 2002 -- American bishops approve national abuse policy, promising to bar all molesters from church work. Vatican later demands and gets changes to protect priests' due process rights. In private session, Law apologizes to fellow prelates for bringing scandal to church.

Sept. 19, 2002 -- Boston Archdiocese settles with 86 Geoghan victims for $10 million.

Dec. 3, 2002 -- Personnel files made public by court order reveal priests in Boston Archdiocese accused of abusing women and girls and taking drugs.

Dec. 13, 2002 -- Law resigns as Boston archbishop.

May 30, 2003 -- Boston Archdiocese releases policy rules designed to protect children from clergy abuse.

July 1, 2003 -- Bishop Sean Patrick O'Malley named Boston archbishop.

Aug. 8, 2003 -- Boston Archdiocese offers $55 million to settle more than 500 lawsuits.

Aug. 23, 2003 -- Geoghan killed in prison.

Sept. 9, 2003 -- Boston Archdiocese agrees to pay $85 million to 552 people to settle abuse claims. Largest publicly disclosed payout by a U.S. diocese.

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