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Report: 166 children abused by 43 Catholic priests in Colorado over past 70 years

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DENVER --  Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser released a long-awaited report on Wednesday detailing child sex abuse by Catholic priests in the state.

According to the document, 166 children were victimized by 43 Catholic priests in Colorado over the past 70 years.

On average, it took 19 1/2 years to remove a priest accused of abuse, according to the report.

The findings do not reveal any new abuse by priests, with the most recent in Colorado taking place in 1998.

Weiser is not recommending any new cases be taken up by district attorneys. The report also does not find any active abusers in ministry.

The report highlights 2019 is seeing a higher rate of reporting past abuse than in recent years.

It blasts the Catholic Church for poor record-keeping over the years and for practices that potentially harmed victims.

It accuses the current Crisis Response Team of being biased toward the church, blasting the team for making alleged victims come to the Archdiocese of Denver’s main office and sit in a room with religious symbols and crucifixes that might be trigger images for victims.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila refused to take questions from reporters.

He did, however, promise to implement the recommendations made in the report -- including having an outside independent team investigate abuse going forward.

In a recorded video message, Aquila said the report is difficult to read.

"I am truly sorry for the hurt that this abuse has caused," he said.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse who have not already reported it can do so through the attorney general's website.

RELATED: Victims of priest abuse in Colorado are eligible, until the end of November, to file for reparations. 

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The report names the prominent priest abusers.

Father Harold Robert White

White was the most prolific known clergy child sex abuser in Colorado history.

His sexual abuse of children began before he was ordained in 1960, and it continued for at least 21 years in at least six parishes from Denver to Colorado Springs to Sterling to Loveland to Minturn to Aspen.

During that time, it is more likely than not he sexually abused at least 63 children.

Father Leonard Abercrombie

Abercrombie sexually abused at least 18 boys in Colorado between his ordination in 1946 and his departure from the state in 1972.

He was assigned to rural parishes with far-flung missions for most of his ministry, occasionally brought back to assignments in Denver only to be sent out to rural parishes again.

Abercrombie was also very involved in Camp St. Malo in Allenspark, a Catholic summer camp for boys.

Father Robert Banigan

Banigan groomed and then sexually abused an altar server starting when Victim No. 1 was 6 years old, according to the report.

Banigan allowed the victim to attend altar-server classes two years early, and he would keep the victim after class to help out with chores.

Father Joseph Bosetti

Bosetti engaged in oral sex with Victim No. 1 at least 10 times over a four- to five-month period in the Denver Archdiocese’s Chancery offices after grooming him by giving him money and other gifts.

Father Timothy Evans

Evans sexually abused three children from 1995 to 1990.

The first victim reported his abuse to the Denver Archdiocese on Feb. 27, 2003, and the archdiocese reported it to law enforcement.

In November 2005, Colorado law enforcement began to investigate the case, and Evans was subsequently charged with sexual assault of a child in Larimer and Jefferson counties.

Father Neil Hewitt

The second victim of Hewitt died by suicide in 1991. In his suicide letter, he described Hewitt masturbating him during a trip to Canada.

In the letter, he also described Hewitt getting him drunk and having him hold Hewitt’s penis.

During a trip to Denver, he said Hewitt got him and two others drunk, getting into bed with Victim No. 2, and “playing with” him.

"I want to start by addressing the courage of the survivors who have shared the stories of their abuse," the Archdiocese of Denver said in a statement.

"As a result of the Attorney General and Church’s shared efforts to have this issue investigated and a report published, several survivors have come forward for the first time and more are likely to come forward in the days ahead.

"We recognize how difficult it is for survivors of abuse to share their stories, and we thank all of you for your courage."

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