Even worse, the children were sometimes accused of lying. In the Irish Catholic abuse cases, it was so unthinkable to the parents that a priest could be capable of such things that the only conclusion they come come to was that the child was lying and on occasion they were even beaten as a result.
Clearly those parents were profoundly ignorant people but that's the way much of society was back then.
and that is the salient point 'it was unthinkable'.
and, and before I get accused of making excuses again, children do lie...they always have done, and they always will do...it is part of growing up. I am not suggesting that any of these children did lie, but, coupled with other factors, many were not believed.