The Legion hired the Praesidium group to investigate the amount of sexual abuse in their ranks, and we have this result:
A total of 35 Legionary priests have been accused of sexual abuse of minors throughout the congregation’s history, the Legion has revealed, although Father Clariond told the Register he expected more to emerge in the future [bold mine]. Of these 35, nine have been found guilty (including the founder) and punished canonically (two were laicized, and seven had sanctions imposed on their life and ministry), 14 have been acquitted (10 priests were found innocent after an investigation was made, according to Canon 1717 of the Code of Canon Law; the other four cases involved imprudent behavior, but not crimes that would require sanctions), and two had already left the ministry when the allegations were presented, and, therefore, no canonical procedures were initiated against them. Ten other cases are still under review.
As an astute reader notes, this doesn't include the actions of Religious, which have to be of additional significance, since they are in formation for as long as 12 years. One doesn't just decide to abuse others after ordination -- the activity has to have had a long and toxic history previous to that.
Furthermore, it wasn't just rank and file Legionaries, but high-profile men:
The charges against Legionary Father William Izquierdo involve a novice when Father Izquierdo served as instructor of novices (!) in Cheshire, Conn., between 1982 and 1994.
Legionary Father Luis Garza, North American territorial director of the congregation, was informed of the case in July 2012, the Legion said, and added that a third party and independent investigation of the allegation then took place that concluded in August of this year, ruling that the allegation was true.
In a Dec. 5 statement, Father Garza said the health of 85-year-old Father Izquierdo has “declined greatly,” and he is now “in an advanced state of dementia.” He added that the priest has not exercised his ministry since 2008 and has been unable to respond to questions about the allegations.
“Father Izquierdo is in the process of being moved to an assisted living facility, where he will receive proper treatment,” Father Garza said.
An abuse allegation against Father Izquierdo first came to light in 2005, Legionary spokesman Father Benjamin Clariond told the Register, but this was not with a minor. After the allegation came to light, his ministry was “restricted,” and in view of his failing health, he did not exercise his ministry after 2008, the spokesman said.
I would suggest that this behaviour "came to light" long before 2005, but it seems that it was denied and the accusers were derided and marginalised, and the exLegionary site which gave details was sued out of existence. In a letter just made public, we have the following:
Father Heereman makes a point of thanking those who have “broken the silence that usually surrounds sexual abuse.” Their voices, he said, “have prompted us to seek the truth about what happened in order to help the victims and to renew our determination to prevent this from happening in the future.”
He also invites anyone who witnesses “imprudent behavior or boundary violations not to remain silent, so that appropriate action can be taken.”
“We deeply regret the pain that we have caused [victims],” Father Heereman wrote. “Like the rest of the Church and society, today we better understand that care for victims of sexual abuse is a priority. We are committed to continue to welcome them with compassion and offer to accompany them on a path of healing and reconciliation.”
While this step appears straight-foward and compassionate, it COMPLETELY ignores the previous response to these victims -- and the private vows that strangled communication. The Legion is not only responsible for their pain, as noted, they have yet to apologise for the added pain of disbelief, stone-walling, attacking and/or shunning those who spoke up over the years. If one considers the 13 or more men who acted inappropriately (plus all the possible Religious not investigated--especially those who left before ordination) and all the victims of each of them, the tally is enormous. Is it true that no one knew ANYTHING until 2005? The thought is preposterous.
Fr Heereman can say that it's "just 1%" but he's playing with numbers, and ignoring the implications. The harms are exacerbated by the number of victims, which isn't disclosed. They might encompass 5% (or more) of the rank-and-file Legionaries (plus the endangered school children!) and then one must add the victims abused by Brothers not covered in this study. Furthermore, is it plausible that these men -- esp. Fr Izquierdo -- didn't know about Maciel's predilections? Water seeks its own level, and like men know like.
This may be the best they can do with the very bad news--scape-goating an elderly demented man as the gravest part of the problem--but it doesn't bode well for the health of the organisation.