Cler­gy­men ac­cused of sex abuse iden­ti­fied

Dio­cese in Santa Rosa re­leases list of those it be­lieves to be mo­lesters

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAY AREA - By Michael Cabanatuan

The Ro­man Catholic Dio­cese of Santa Rosa has re­leased a list of 39 cler­gy­men it says have been cred­i­bly ac­cused or con­victed of sex­u­ally abus­ing about 100 chil­dren, call­ing them “the evil ac­tions of priests and bish­ops.”

More than half of those on the list re­leased Satur­day night — at least 23 — are de­ceased, and Robert Vasa, bishop of the dio­cese, said in the North Coast Catholic news­pa­per that none of the priests or dea­cons on the list are still serv­ing in the dio­cese.

The names, which in­clude four cler­gy­men con­victed of sex­ual of­fenses, were re­leased in the news­pa­per. Many of them are al­ready well­known through pub­lic ac­cu­sa­tions, ad­mis­sions or in­ves­ti­ga­tions dis­closed in the me­dia or on the in­ter­net. In­cluded on the list are 14 men who were ac­cused of child sex­ual abuse in other lo­ca­tions but did not face al­le­ga­tions in the Santa Rosa dio­cese.

Melanie Sakoda, a Bay Area rep­re­sen­ta­tive of

the Sur­vivors Net­work of Those Abused by Priests, said the re­lease of the names is help­ful de­spite the pas­sage of time and the death of many on the list.

“There’s still a value to it,” she said. “Whether they’re dead or not, their vic­tims may not be. They were a lot younger. A lot of sur­vivors think they’re the only ones who’ve been abused. When lists come out, they re­al­ize they’re not alone. It’s a step in the heal­ing process to know that it was not your fault.”

The re­lease, the lat­est in the Bay Area, comes amid a wave of sim­i­lar dis­clo­sures across the coun­try after a Penn­syl­va­nia grand jury re­port in Au­gust ac­cused the Catholic church of a sys­temic cover-up of child sex abuse by dioce­san lead­ers in that state and at the Vat­i­can.

The Dio­cese of San Jose in Oc­to­ber re­leased the names of 15 priests the church be­lieves to be child sex­ual abusers. The Mon­terey Dio­cese re­leased names of 30 abusers ear­lier this month. The Oak­land Dio­cese had planned to dis­close names by Thanks­giv­ing but pushed the re­lease into this year. The Arch­dio­cese of San Fran­cisco has not an­nounced a de­ci­sion on re­leas­ing names, but of­fi­cials in Novem­ber said they would re­view 4,000-plus per­son­nel files for any cases of abuse.

Vasa said in a state­ment that he was re­leas­ing the names “to give all vic­tims of cler­i­cal sex­ual abuse the as­sur­ance that they have been heard and that the church is very much con­cerned for their well-be­ing and heal­ing.”

The doc­u­ment of­fers scant de­tails, if any, of what each man has been ac­cused of and when and how it oc­curred. Vasa said that’s be­cause many of the cases are decades old. The list in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on each sus­pected abuser’s sta­tus but in five cases it was not known if they were work­ing as priests.

SNAP’s Sakoda said the Santa Rosa Dio­cese was fairly thor­ough in its list, in­clud­ing not only priests and list­ing clergy ac­cused of child sex­ual abuse out­side of the dio­cese. But she said the list should have in­cluded any sex­ual abuse of adult vic­tims as well as any in­ci­dents in­volv­ing nuns or sec­u­lar church of­fi­cials.

Sakoda said she hopes the list will be­come a per­ma­nent fix­ture on the dio­cese’s web­site, and will be up­dated and placed in an easy-to-find lo­ca­tion.

“Peo­ple should be able to find their abusers’ names,” she said.

Sakoda also urged any vic­tims who don’t see their abusers’ names on the list to con­tact SNAP, the state At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice or the me­dia to re­port them.

The list can be found in a re­lease from the dio­cese, pref­aced by a state­ment from Vasa, or in the North Coast Catholic news­let­ter.

The Santa Rosa Dio­cese cov­ers an area of 11,700 square miles in six coun­ties and in­cludes nearly 180,000 mem­bers.

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