Virginia's Catholic Dioceses Release the Names of 50 Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse
A list of 50 priests who have been accused of child sexual abuse was released last week by two Catholic Dioceses in Virginia. The abusive incidents reported range from the 1950s to at least 1993. Advocates of sexual abuse survivors claim more abusers remain unnamed.
The list released by the Diocese of Richmond named 42 priests whose files were independently audited by Bishop Barry Knestout. The audit revealed that the accusations against the priests were credible. The majority of the men on the list have since deceased, and the Diocese of Richmond maintains its stance that no priests with “credible” accusations against them are currently working within the ministry.
Bishop Knestout released the report as a gesture of transparency that more bishops throughout the United States have been adopting after a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report last year documenting at least 1,000 child sexual abuse cases involving at least 300 Catholic clergy members.
The Diocese of Arlington used to be a part of the Richmond Diocese until 1974. It named 16 priests, one of whom was accused of sexual abuse in 2007. 8 of the names on Arlington’s list were also on Richmond’s list.
The Richmond bishop said the following in a letter to the public, “To those who experienced abuse from clergy, I am truly, deeply sorry. I regret that you have to bear the burden of the damage you suffered at the hands of those you trusted. I am also sorry that you must carry the memory of that experience with you.”
Last October, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that his office was investigating sexual abuse in the Richmond and Arlington Dioceses. However, leaders from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) say that they have heard from survivors claiming their abusers were not named on the list.
Deborah Cox, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Richmond, said the following about the released list of priests, “The list includes names of clergy against whom a credible and substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was made. For the purposes of this list, an allegation was considered credible and substantiated if it was supported by a preponderance of the evidence. This determination was made after carefully considering many factors and circumstances, including but not limited to admissions; convictions; arrests; settlements of civil claims; detailed, consistent and plausible complaints; number of victims; priest’s assignment history; adverse actions against the priest by church authority; and whether the name was published on other lists of known abusers.”
None of the priests named on the Diocese of Richmond’s list were in the state’s sex offender registry.
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