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Clergy Abuse in Colorado

Colorado Attorney General Philip Weiser commissioned an investigation into the extent of priest abuse in Colorado. The resulting Colorado report accuses 43 Catholic priests of child sex abuse. Survivors of abuse and victim advocates are calling for legislative changes to expand the legal rights of survivors.

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Colorado Clergy Abuse Lawsuits

In the last decade, reports of clergy abuse have been documented in every state in the country. Prosecutors have launched investigations into the systemic sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Lawmakers in several states broadened the legal rights of victims through legislation. And, survivors of abuse are taking legal action against their abusers and the organizations that hid the abuse.

The Colorado priest abuse report was the first step for the state to address decades of abuse. However, due to current state laws, the majority of victims abused by a clergy member in Colorado are unable to file a civil lawsuit. These cases date back decades and are thus time-barred from the civil legal process. However, recent legislation has expanded the timeframe for victims to file criminal cases.

Victim advocates are fighting for additional legislative changes to expand these legal deadlines. Several states have done so in the last few years. Such changes would grant more time for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to process their trauma and seek justice in court.

Colorado Sexual Assault Legislation

In recent years, Colorado lawmakers have passed two bills that benefit victims of sexual assault.

2016 | HB-1260

HB 16-1260 extends the legal deadline to press criminal charges of sexual assault from 10 years to 20 years.

2019 | HB-1030

HB 19-1030 “creates the crime of unlawful electronic sexual communication,” with minors.

The Need for Amended Child Sexual Abuse Laws in Colorado

Although these two bills expand a victim’s rights, many advocates believe these laws don’t do enough. Survivors of child sexual abuse still have limited options when it comes to pursuing civil claims in Colorado.

Currently, survivors have just six years after they reach 18 years of age to file a civil lawsuit against their abuser. For many survivors of child sexual abuse, it can take decades to process the trauma and find the courage to face their abuser in a courtroom. The current laws don’t take this into account.

On February 12, 2020, Colorado state lawmakers proposed House Bill 1296 (HB 1296) to address the deficiencies in the current laws. Among other important provisions, HB 1296 would have eliminated the statute of limitations for survivors of sexual assault to file civil lawsuits against their abuser.

A statute of limitations (SOL) is a legal deadline. SOLs are determined at the state level and vary based on the crime.

However, unlike similar legislation passed in other states, HB 1296 would not have applied retroactively to expired cases. Some lawmakers believe a retroactive provision would violate Colorado’s state constitution.

The lack of retroactive measures was widely debated and criticized by many victim advocates. In June 2020, one of the lead sponsors of the bill, state Senator Julie Gonzales, asked for the bill to be rejected. Gonzales hopes to propose a future bill that will retroactively help survivors of sexual assault with expired cases.

The Future Of Colorado Sexual Assault Legislation

Colorado lawmakers agree the current statute of limitations prevents many sexual assault victims from filing civil claims. However, there is a divide among state lawmakers in how best to accomplish a revision.

As more states prioritize similar legislation, Colorado lawmakers are expected to debate the issue again in next year’s legislative session.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Priest Sexual Abuse in Colorado?

When taking any legal action against an abuser, a victim must follow the statute of limitations related to the crime.

The legal deadline a survivor must follow will differ depending on whether the survivor is pressing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit.

Criminal Charges

There are two types of criminal charges a victim may bring against an abuser. Depending on the severity of the crime, sexual assault may be considered a felony or a misdemeanor. In Colorado, there is a different legal deadline for felony charges versus misdemeanor charges.

Felony – In Colorado, felony charges of sexual assault must be filed within 20 years of the crime. If a victim was younger than 18 and older than 14 at the time of the abuse, the victim has 20 years to press charges after he or she turns 18 years of age.

In Colorado, there is no time limit to file felony charges of sexual offenses committed against a child (under the age of 15).

Misdemeanor – In Colorado, misdemeanor charges of sexual assault must be filed against an abuser within five years of the crime.

Learn more about the criminal statutes of limitations in Colorado here.

Civil Lawsuit

According to current Colorado law, a survivor of sexual assault has six years to file a civil claim against his or her abuser. A survivor of child sexual assault must file a civil claim within six years after he or she has reached the age of 18.

What Is the Difference Between a Criminal Case and Civil Lawsuit?

If the abuser (defendant) is found guilty in a criminal case, he or she may face probation or time in prison. The victim (plaintiff) would only receive money if the court requires the defendant to pay restitution to the plaintiff.

If the abuser (defendant) is found liable in a civil case, he or she must pay a monetary award to the victim (plaintiff). The amount of the award is determined by the jury. The award covers any damages caused by the abuse.

Clergy Abuse Settlements in Colorado

There are more than 40 priests accused of abuse in Colorado. According to the investigation’s resulting report, 166 children were the victims of sexual abuse by these priests. This high number of victims has led to a large number of lawsuits. To avoid lengthy and costly trials, the Catholic Dioceses of Colorado has settled many of these priest abuse cases.

By July 2008, the Denver Archdiocese settled 43 claims against just three abusive priests. The archdiocese paid more than $8.2 million to settle all the claims.

Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program

In 2019, the Colorado Dioceses and the state attorney general’s office created the Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP). The priest abuse reparations program established a fund to pay compensation to priest abuse victims. If a survivor of abuse chooses to accept the money offered through the IRRP, he or she forgoes any future rights to sue the dioceses.

As of January 31, 2020 the IRRP is no longer accepting new claims.

For some victims, the IRRP offers several important benefits:

  • The IRRP is voluntary, and a survivor of abuse can refuse the compensation offered.
  • The IRRP is controlled by third-party administrators, not the responsible diocese.
  • The IRRP pays compensation within two weeks after a claim is deemed “eligible.” For many victims, this can be more convenient compared to lengthy, costly legal battles.

Critics of the program observed several drawbacks:

  • The compensation amount awarded through similar programs is generally less than an applicant could win through a lawsuit.
  • Because compensation is paid privately through the fund, the Colorado Dioceses avoid negative publicity that could occur during a trial.
  • To be eligible for the program, a victim had to be abused by a clergy member in the Colorado Dioceses. A victim abused by a member of a “religious order, clergy of another diocese or lay persons” cannot file a compensation claim through the IRRP. However, these victims could still file a lawsuit if the legal deadline has not expired.

The program opened on October 7, 2019. The program sent applications to 65 victims with prior abuse allegations against the dioceses. Those who had not previously reported their abuse had to register for the program by November 30, 2019. All claims had to be submitted by January 31, 2020.

Dioceses in Colorado Associated with the IRRP

The IRRP covers all claims against Colorado priests accused of abuse within the following dioceses:

  • Archdiocese of Denver
  • Diocese of Colorado
  • Diocese of Pueblo

In total, 87 people filed claims with the IRRP. As of February 2020, the fund has distributed a total of $1.2 million to 10 applicants.

List of Priests Accused of Abuse in Colorado

This is a list of Catholic priests accused of abuse in Colorado. This list does not include clergy members of other religious orders or denominations. This list does not include staff members, volunteers or congregation members accused of abuse in the Colorado Dioceses.

If you believe any of the Roman Catholic priests accused of abuse in Colorado were active abusers in other states, search for their name using our nationwide, searchable database of accused priests.

If you do not see the name you are looking for within our list of priests accused of abuse in Colorado, this does not limit your legal options. This list may expand as additional abusive priests in Colorado are identified.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of priest abuse in Colorado, you have legal rights. Learn more about your legal options by consulting one of our experienced lawyers today.



There are 2 accused clergy members from the Diocese of Colorado Springs, CO:


Colorado Priest Abuse Victim Resources

There are many programs and organizations that support sexual abuse survivors in Colorado. These groups provide useful resources for victims and their families. This list of sexual violence support programs in Colorado is organized by county.

Colorado Sexual Violence Programs by County

CountyFacility NamePhone Number(s)
AdamsThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
AdamsFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
AlamosaTu Casa, Inc.Hotline: 719-589-2465
ArapahoeThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
ArapahoeFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
ArchuletaSexual Assault Services Organization (SASO)Hotline: 970-247-5400
Office: 970-259-3074
ArchuletaRise Above ViolenceHotline: 970-264-9075
Office: 970-264-1129
BacaDomestic Safety Resource CenterHotline: 719-336-4357
BentArkansas Valley Resource CenterHotline: 719-384-7764
BoulderMoving to End Sexual Assault (MESA)Hotline: 303-443-7300
Office: 303-443-0400
BoulderFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
BroomfieldThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
BroomfieldFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
ChaffeeThe AllianceHotline: 719-539-7347
CheyenneDomestic Safety Resource CenterHotline: 719-336-4357
Clear CreekClear Creek County AdvocatesHotline: 303-569-3126
Office: 303-679-2426
Clear CreekPeaceWorks, Inc.Hotline: 303-838-8181
Office: 303-838-7176
ConejosTu Casa, Inc.Hotline: 719-589-2465
CostillaTu Casa, Inc.Hotline: 719-589-2465
CrowleyArkansas Valley Resource CenterHotline: 719-384-7764
CusterFamily Crisis Services, Inc.Hotline: 719-275-2429
Delta
Latimer House
Hilltop
Hotline: 1-844-990-5500
DenverThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
DenverFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
DoloresRenew, Inc.Hotline: 970-565-2100
Office: 970-565-4886
DouglasThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
DouglasFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
EagleResponseHotline: 970-925-SAFE (7233)
Office: 970-920-5357
EagleBright Future FoundationHotline: 970-949-7086
Office: 970-949-7097
El PasoHaseya Advocate ProgramOffice: 719-600-3939
El PasoTESSAHotline: 719-633-3819
Office: 719-633-1462
ElbertThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
FremontThe AllianceHotline: 719-539-7347
FremontFamily Crisis Services, Inc.Hotline: 719-275-2429
GarfieldAdvocate Safehouse Project
Hotline: 970-945-4439
Hotline: 970-285-0209

Office: 970-945-2632
GilpinThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
GilpinFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
GrandAdvocates for A Violence-Free CommunityHotline: 970-725-3412
Office: 970-725-3442
GunnisonProject Hope of Gunnison ValleyHotline: 970-275-1193
Office: 970-641-2712
HinsdaleProject Hope of Gunnison ValleyHotline: 970-275-1193
Office: 970-641-2712
HinsdaleRise Above ViolenceHotline: 970-264-9075
Office: 970-264-1129
HuerfanoAdvocates Against Domestic AssaultHotline: 719-846-6665
Office: 719-846-9159
JacksonThe Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) CenterHotline: 970-472-4200
JeffersonThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
JeffersonFamily TreeHotline: 303-420-6752
JeffersonPeaceWorks, Inc.Hotline: 303-838-8181
Office: 303-838-7176
KiowaDomestic Safety Resource CenterHotline: 719-336-4357
Kit CarsonSARA HouseOffice: 970-867-2121
La PlataSexual Assault Services Organization (SASO)Hotline: 970-247-5400
Office: 970-259-3074
LakeAdvocates of Lake County, Inc.Hotline: 719-486-3530
LarimerThe Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) CenterHotline: 970-472-4200
LarimerEstes Valley Crisis AdvocatesHotline: 970-586-4000
Office: 970-577-9781
LarimerAlternatives to ViolenceHotline: 970-880-1000
Office: 970-669-5150
Las AnimasAdvocates Against Domestic AssaultHotline: 719-846-6665
Office: 719-846-9159
LincolnThe Blue BenchHotline: 303-322-7273
Office: 303-329-9922
LoganSARA HouseOffice: 970-867-2121
MesaLatimer House
Hilltop
Hotline: 1-844-990-5500
MineralTu Casa, Inc.Hotline: 719-589-2465
MoffatOpen Heart Advocates (formerly Advocates Crisis Support Services of Craig)Hotline: 970-824-2400
Office Line: 970-824-9709
MontezumaRenew, Inc.Hotline: 970-565-2100
Office: 970-565-4886
MontroseLatimer House
Hilltop
Hotline: 1-844-990-5500
MorganSARA HouseOffice: 970-867-2121
OteroArkansas Valley Resource CenterHotline: 719-384-7764
OurayLatimer House
Hilltop
Hotline: 1-844-990-5500
ParkPeaceWorks, Inc.Hotline: 303-838-8181
Office: 303-838-7176
PhillipsSARA HouseOffice: 970-867-2121
PitkinResponseHotline: 970-925-SAFE (7233)
Office: 970-920-5357
ProwersDomestic Safety Resource CenterHotline: 719-336-4357
PuebloPueblo Rape Crisis Services (PRCS)Hotline: 719-549-0549
Office: 719-544-1191
Rio BlancoSafehouse, Inc.Office: 970-878-3131
Rio GrandeTu Casa, Inc.Hotline: 719-589-2465
RouttAdvocates of Routt CountyHotline: 970-879-8888
Office: 970-879-2034
SaguacheTu Casa, Inc.Hotline: 719-589-2465
San JuanSexual Assault Services Organization (SASO)Hotline: 970-247-5400
Office: 970-259-3074
San MiguelAlternative HorizonsHotline: 970-247-9619
SedgwickSARA HouseOffice: 970-867-2121
SummitAdvocates for Victims of AssaultHotline: 970-668-3906
Office: 970-668-3906
TellerTESSAHotline: 719-633-3819
Office: 719-633-1462
WashingtonSARA HouseOffice: 970-867-2121
WeldThe Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) CenterHotline: 970-472-4200
YumaSARA HouseOffice: 970-867-2121
Sources:Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Violence Free Colorado

Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) is “the collective voice of rape crisis advocates across the state of Colorado.” The organization works in a number of ways to address and prevent sexual assault across the state.

Colorado Clergy Abuse FAQs

How Do I Report Sexual Abuse By a Priest in Colorado?

If you or someone you know is in danger, call 911 immediately.

To report sexual abuse of a minor in Colorado:

Please call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 844-CO-4-Kids (26-4-5437) to report child sexual abuse.

You may also report sexual abuse of a minor to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office by completing an online form found here.

To report any sexual assault:

If you or a loved one are a victim of sexual assault, you can report the assault in two main ways.

  • Sexual assault can be reported to local law enforcement.
  • Sexual assault can be reported by way of seeking a medical forensic exam.

If the victim seeks a forensic exam, the evidence will be sent to local law enforcement. The victim may choose to report anonymously. If he or she does so, no contact information will be included with the evidence sent to law enforcement.

The victim also has the right not to test the evidence. If the victim chooses this route, the law enforcement agency will hold onto the evidence for two years, during which time, a victim has the right to pursue criminal charges against the abuser.

Learn more about reporting abuse cases in Colorado here.

To report abuse to the Archdiocese of Denver:

Contact the Office of Child & Youth Protection by calling 720-239-2832 or emailing [email protected].

To report abuse to the Diocese of Colorado Springs:

You can electronically report abuse to the Colorado Springs Diocese by filling out the online form here.

To report abuse to the Diocese of Pueblo:

Report all abuse claims committed by a clergy member to the Vicar for Clergy.

Rev. Msgr. Edward Nunez | Vicar for Clergy
Phone: ​719-544-9861  ext. 1121
Email Address: [email protected]

Report all abuse claims committed by a diocesan or parish staff member to ​the Diocesan Human Resources Department.

​Nancy Martinez | Safe Environment and Human Resources
Phone: ​719-544-9861  ext. 1110
Email Address: [email protected]

For more information about reporting abuse, visit our resource page today>

Do I Have to Currently Live in Colorado to File a Colorado Priest Abuse Lawsuit?

You do not have to live in Colorado to file a clergy sex abuse lawsuit in the state. However, the case must relate to the state in some way. For example, a survivor of abuse may file a lawsuit against a priest or a specific diocese in Colorado if the abuse took place there.

Who Can File on Behalf of a Victim?

Someone who has legal authority for a victim of abuse may file a lawsuit on the victim’s behalf. Most often, this person would be a victim’s parent, guardian or conservator. A victim’s estate may also seek legal action on behalf of the victim.

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