Boston archdiocese identifies all accused priests
August 25, 2011
Bowing to demands from victim’ advocates, the Boston archdiocese has released a list of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.
The Boston archdiocese made public an online data-base that includes the names of 159 accused priests. The list includes both living and deceased priests. The list names all those who have been found guilty of sexual abuse by civil or canonical courts. It also includes those who have only been accused, and a final determination of guilt or innocence has not yet been made--either because the accused priest has died or because the investigation is still in process. Separately, the archdiocese lists those priests who have been publicly accused but later cleared of charges.
Advocates for priests had argued against the release of such a comprehensive list, since a priest who is falsely accused could suffer grave damage to his reputation if his name is made public. But Cardinal O’Malley explained, in a letter accompanying the release of other names, that he considered the need for full disclosure an imperative.
In July, BishopAccountability, an organization dedicated to exposing clerical, complained of “a silence of epic proportions” on the part of the Boston archdiocese and released its own list of priests who had been accused but not previously identified.
The public listing released by the archdiocese does not include the names of accused priests who are members of religious orders or priests from other dioceses who were temporarily working in Boston. In those cases, Cardinal O’Malley explained, the investigation of charges is the responsibility of the other diocese or the priest’s religious superiors.
The listing also does not include the names of accused priests if the archdiocese was able to dismiss the charges promptly, and the accusations never became public. For those priests who are still facing charges, Father Richard Erickson, the vicar general of the Boston archdiocese, revealed that the archdiocese used a “low threshold” to determine whether their names should be listed, and included them if the charges were not “manifestly false.”
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