Fugitives from justice: Roman Catholic priests
Few clergy who fled the U.S. after being accused of sexual abuse of minors have been returned to face the charges
Web application by David Eads, Katie Nieland, Joe Germuska, Brian Boyer
Research and reporting by David Jackson, Gary Marx, Brian Boyer
March 11, 2012
Since 1985, at least 32 Roman Catholic priests have left the United States for foreign countries while facing criminal charges or a police investigation over allegations that they sexually assaulted or abused minors, according to federal warrants, news reports and law enforcement sources. Only five have been returned to the U.S. to face trial; some died abroad. The number of fugitive priests grows by more than two dozen if it includes those who left the country while facing internal church probes or civil allegations of child sex misconduct, instead of a criminal investigation, and those who were transferred to foreign countries by church authorities before or after allegations surfaced. Many have maintained their innocence. Authorities also have pursued religious leaders from other faith traditions who fled the U.S. amid abuse allegations.