(Nov. 4, 2018) Since a shocking report from Pennsylvania identified some 300 priests who had abused more than 1,000 victims over several decades, several more Catholic parishes have released abusive priests’ names. About 50 dioceses across the U.S. have since released the names of clergymen who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.
As in Pennsylvania, some of the accused priests were transferred to other parts of the country. In October 2018, dioceses in Indianapolis, Ind.; Washington, D.C.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Steubenville and Youngstown, Ohio released their own lists of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse. The state of Louisiana has also seen a whole new round of allegations of priest abuse come to light, including incidents in New Orleans, Lafayette, and Lake Charles.
New Orleans Parish releases 57 Names of Accuse Priests
The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans last week released the names of 57 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. In the wake of that announcement, the New Orleans district attorney is urging any victims of clergy sexual abuse to come forward with their stories.
In NOLA, Archbishop Gregory Aymond released a 10-page document with the names on Nov. 2, with a letter explaining his action.
The archbishop wrote: “I believe it is the right thing to do in order to foster the healing of victims, in a spirit of transparency, and in the pursuit of justice.”
Mr. Aymond told WDSU-TV that a dozen men and women reviewed the files of 2,432 priests who served in the archdiocese since 1950. Others looked into the files of now-dead clerics.
The archbishop told his congregation: “Some will be surprised to see the name of a priest who served in your parish or who you personally knew very well. As you experience this disappointment, I raise you to the Lord and ask him to give you comfort and his peace.”
Mr. Aymond also gave the list to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office, and said it would be available to other DAs who ask for it.
NOLA District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said his office is ready to evaluate for possible prosecution any cases brought to him after investigations by the NOLA police department.
More Catholic Parishes release Abusive Priests’ Names
The church has been struggling in NOLA and elsewhere since the explosive Pennsylvania developments surfaced in August 2018. The Pennsylvania grand jury report accused the Catholic Church of covering up for 300 “predator priests.” The grand jury put the number of victims at 1,000, but pointedly said that the real number of victims is more likely several thousand. The 900-page report covered eight of Pennsylvania’s ten dioceses, about half of the state’s 3.2 million Catholics.
Cardinal Resigns amid Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal
The archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, resigned last month following the report. Prior to his D.C. promotion, Mr. Wuerl had served as the Bishop of Pittsburgh. He is the second Catholic cardinal in the US to resign due to the sex abuse scandal. The first was Boston’s Cardinal Bernard Law in 2002.
Pope Francis praised Wuerl’s “nobility” and leadership and allowed the cardinal to remain as the caretaker until a new archbishop takes his place. The pope has taken considerable criticism from victims and victims’ groups as a result of that stance.
Criminal and Civil Charges Differ
District attorneys can prosecute sex abuse crimes in the criminal court system, while victims may also have a chance to hold the church and/or their abuser accountable in civil court. Victims of sexual abuse by clergy can contact a district attorney for criminal matters; they can also contact a a clergy abuse attorney for a possible civil action.
Statutes of Limitations Issues Changing
Statues of limitations govern both criminal and civil cases, limiting the time one has to file a case. However, many states are now following in the footsteps of Minnesota to grant victims of child sexual abuse an additional grace period in which to seek justice.