New Colorado Report Identifies More Abusive Catholic Priests
A 22-month investigation found nine additional Catholic priests who sexually abused children in Colorado and 46 more victims.
A new state report identified 46 victims who were sexually abused by Catholic priests in Colorado and nine additional priests who abused children.
The report was released on December 1, 2020, by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. It was the culmination of a 22-month investigation led by former U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer. The investigation identified a total of 212 children who were abused by 52 different priests in Colorado from 1951 to 1999.
First Report Identified 43 Abusers
In February 2019, Troyer was appointed to lead an independent review of child sexual abuse in three Colorado dioceses. An independent compensation fund was also created for victims alongside the investigation.
Last October, Troyer’s initial findings revealed at least 166 children were abused by 43 priests.
Nine Priests Mentioned In New Report
The new report identified nine priests accused of sexual abuse.
A prominent local priest, Charles Woodrich, was one of the nine named in the latest report. Woodrich, also known as Father Woody, founded the Samaritan House, a homeless shelter in Denver. He was called Denver’s “patron saint of the poor.”
However, the Colorado report found Woodrich abused multiple children. One victim, who chose to remain anonymous, said Woodrich began abusing him when he was 12 years old in 1983. Woodrich continued to abuse him once or twice a month for the next six years. The victim said the trauma of Woodrich’s abuse has affected the trajectory of his life. He has struggled with relationships, became involved with crime and experienced homelessness himself.
Woodrich died in 1991.
Another priest identified was Father Joseph Walsh. Walsh was accused of abusing a boy and girl at Sacred Heart Orphanage in the 1950s. The male victim was abused from the ages of four to eight, while the female victim was abused from ages seven to thirteen. The male victim reported the abuse in 1969 and 1981. Despite the reported abuse, Walsh’s authority or access to children was not restricted. Walsh is now deceased.
Colorado Continues To Address Clergy Abuse
Investigators warned the investigation should “not be taken as an exhaustive compilation of every incident of clergy in Colorado sexually abusing children over the last 70 years.”
The investigation did not include the following abuse types:
- Abuse from Colorado priests in religious orders
- Abuse by priests that occurred before they were ordained
- Sexual misconduct committed by priests against adult victims
Weiser said the state will continue to address sexual abuse by priests, potentially through legislation or further investigation. He encouraged other victims to come forward.
“I recognize there isn’t one program or dollar amount that can make up for the trauma that many have been through in their lives, but my sincerest hope is that this unique Colorado program has allowed survivors of sexual abuse by a priest to take one more step on the path to healing and recovery.”
Brown, J., Paul, J. (2019, October 23). At least 166 children have been sexually abused by Catholic priests in Colorado since 1950, new report finds. The Colorado Sun.
Miller, B. (2019, February 19). Review of Catholic church sexual abuse to be undertaken in Colorado; reparations program planned. KMGH.
Miller, B. (2019, October 23). Report detailing decades of child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Colorado shows 160+ incidents. KMGH.
Miller, B. (2020, December 1). Second report on Colorado Catholic Church child sexual abuse IDs 9 more priests, 46 more victims. KMGH.
Paul, J., Brown, J. (2020, December 1). 52 Catholic priests in Colorado, including iconic Father Woody, abused 212 victims, further investigation finds. The Colorado Sun.
Schmelzer, E. (2020, December 1). Victim of abuse by Denver’s Father Woody speaks out: “They’re no longer going to have this shining light.” The Denver Post.
Sherry, A. (2019, February 19). AG Weiser Announces Independent Review Of Past Priest Abuse Allegations In Colorado. CPR News.
(2020, December 1). Follow-up report on child sex abuse by Catholic priests uncovers additional 46 claims of abuse in Denver and Pueblo dioceses over last 70 years [Press Release]. Office of the Attorney General, Colorado Department of Law.