Thousands of Catholic priests were accused of sexual abuse, then what happened? An investigation reveals most have become the priest next door.Read Now
"Dagwell is one of more than 1,200 former priests, Catholic brothers and Catholic school officials identified in a USA TODAY Network investigation who were accused of sexual abuse but were able to move on with little or no oversight or accountability. Most never faced criminal charges.
As thousands of abuse victims across the U.S. continue to search for justice and closure decades after being molested by some of the most trusted people in their lives, these men have become the priest next door. They live near schools and playgrounds, close to families and children unaware of their backgrounds or the crimes they’ve been accused of. In some cases, they’ve taken on leadership roles in new communities, becoming professors, counselors, friends and mentors to children. Their movements are unchecked by both the government and the Catholic Church in part because laws in many states make it nearly impossible for victims to pursue criminal charges decades after alleged abuse.
During its nine-month investigation, the USA TODAY Network tracked down last known addresses for nearly 700 former priests who have been publicly accused of sexual abuse. Then, 38 reporters knocked on more than 100 doors across the country, from Portland, Oregon, to Long Island, New York, with stops in Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, Miami and more. They talked with accused priests, as well as neighbors, school officials, employers, church leaders and victims. They reviewed court records, social media accounts and church documents in piecing together a nationwide accounting of what happened after priests were accused of abuse, left their positions in the church and were essentially allowed to go free. "