of the BishopAccountability.org Database
of Publicly Accused Roman Catholic Priests, Nuns, Brothers,
Deacons, and Seminarians in the United States
This database is intended to provide the best possible answer to a simple
question: According to a church-sponsored report based on diocesan
records, 4,392 Catholic priests in the United States have been accused
since 1950 of sexually abusing minors. Updates have increased the USCCB's
count to 6,275 priests accused through 2012. See our page tabulating the USCCB's annual updates. Who are these priests and
where have they worked?
The answer to this question is an urgent concern for many people:
- Survivors (particularly those who don't know yet
that the priest who abused them has been accused by others),
- Catholic parents in vulnerable parishes where offending
priests have served,
- Parents of children attending summer camps where
accused priests have worked,
- Citizens in vulnerable communities where priests
have preyed on children, or where suspended or laicized priests are
- Law enforcement officials who are trying to collect
information on offenders in their jurisdictions,
- Lawmakers who are considering proposals to modify
statutes of limitations and reporting laws relating to sexual abuse,
- Catholic laypeople who wish to participate knowledgeably
in parish councils, finance councils, diocesan offices, and other roles
within the church,
- Priests, bishops, and Vatican officials of good will
who seek to understand and remedy the crisis,
- Journalists who require up-to-date information, and
- Scholars who are studying the dynamics of the crisis.
On this page we explain the genesis of
this database project and its current
status; then we offer a detailed
description of its contents, our posting
policy, and the conventions
we follow in displaying the data. We also acknowledge the people
who have made this database possible.
Genesis of the Project
This project combines information from three main sources:
- The database of accused priests maintained by attorney Sylvia Demarest
and donated to BishopAccountability.org in 2004,
- The database of accused priests created by SurvivorsFirst.org and transferred
to the BishopAccountability.org site in 2005, and
- Hundreds of new names found by researchers at BishopAccountability.org
and immediately added to the database. This process is ongoing.
All of the names in our database originated either in media reports (including
some pioneering collections of names gathered by enterprising reporters)
or in publicly filed court documents. We thank the courageous victims
who filed civil suits, their attorneys, the prosecutors who pressed charges
when the statutes of limitations allowed, and the journalists who brought
these and other accusations into public view. Our database tabulates their
Current Status of the
The first version of the database consisted of the SurvivorsFirst.org
database with updates added on March 14, 2005. The database is currently
updated daily as new media reports and documents become available. We
are also improving descriptions and adding links to older listings regularly.
See the most recent description
of the database with counts of the bishops, priests, nuns, brothers,
deacons, and seminarians who are included.
of the Database
What exactly does the database consist of?
• The database is a list of diocesan and religious order priests,
brothers, seminarians, deacons and nuns in the Roman Catholic church in
the United States who face an allegation or legal action (criminal or
civil) relating to sexual abuse of a child or possession of child pornography,
as reported in a newspaper article or other media source or documented
in public court filings.
• Alleged acts of sexual abuse or possession of child pornography
by lay teachers, church volunteers, church administrators, or other diocesan
or religious order employees are excluded.
• A child is defined as a person under 18 at the time the alleged
• The legal definition of sexual abuse is state-specific and we
defer to the state-specific definition of sexual abuse when questions
arise. Incidents of alleged sexual abuse of adults, murder, theft, drug
use, or other crimes are not included.
• The database references and links to articles and reports from
reputable news services including newspapers, magazines and other periodicals.
It is the understanding of BishopAccountability.org that the news services’
reporters, editorial staff and/or attorneys have reviewed the facts and
approved them for publication. The database may also include documents
from other reputable sources.
• The database may also reference and link to investigative reports
from government agencies, pleadings and other documents filed in criminal
and civil court proceedings, as well as materials obtained in discovery
and not under protective order.
• The database is not typically the original reporter of any new information
or new allegations. Each allegation that we list has already been reported
in public sources. The database "re-reports" or “re-formats”
information in the public domain.
• An individual is included in the database only if BishopAccountability.org
has obtained appropriate documentation. This is typically a copy of a
newspaper article from a reputable newspaper or a copy of the legal documents
filed in court and maintained in a public file.
• The database does not state or imply that individuals facing
allegations are guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims. The reports
contained in the database are merely allegations. The U.S. legal system
presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent
until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil
actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff
proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a
part of civil or private settlements.
• Every attempt is made to keep the database current and accurate.
BishopAccountability.org monitors news sources for updates in an individual’s
In the U.S. legal system, all accused persons are presumed innocent until
proven guilty. This database is based generally on allegations reported publicly
in the media or publicly filed in the courts. BishopAccountability.org,
Inc. does not confirm the veracity of any actual allegation, and this
database is not a representation of the legal case history of an individual.
Professional and reasonable efforts have been made to ensure accuracy,
including quality-control review. Each reported allegation has been double-checked
with the cited source document. Please note:
- If the newspaper article that we cite also includes an individual's
denial of an accusation against him, we record this denial in the Notes
- Each individual is assigned to one diocese in the database. In cases
where an individual worked in multiple dioceses, we assign the individual
to a primary diocese. (Paul Shanley, for instance, worked in New York,
San Bernardino, and Boston; Boston is designated as his primary diocese.)
This practice is admittedly not perfect, and we will soon improve it
by adding additional database fields for multiple dioceses. Our ultimate
goal is to list all dioceses where a priest has been incardinated, and
all dioceses where he has worked.
- We do not systematically track the status of internal church investigations
(removed, cleared by church investigation, defrocked, etc.) or the individual’s
current status with the church (such as active, retired, left priesthood).
If this information is included in a newspaper article, we record it
in the Notes field. No distinction is made among church disciplinary
actions such as removed, relieved of duty, placed on leave, etc.; all
of these disciplinary actions, when noted, are marked by the generic
- If an individual is "cleared" or "exonerated"
by an internal church investigation and/or a diocesan review board decision,
the individual remains in the database. The internal church investigation
and/or diocesan Review Board decision is noted.
- If an individual is returned to ministry and/or is cleared by an internal
church investigation and/or a diocesan review board decision, but the
victim has not withdrawn the allegation, the individual remains in the
- If we learn that an individual has died, we indicate this in the Notes
- If a criminal investigation or civil lawsuit is dismissed because
the alleged offense is beyond the statute of limitations, the accused
individual has not been exonerated and remains listed in the database,
unless the victim has withdrawn the allegation.
- If the individual faces an allegation for an act which occurred after
the individual has left the church, the individual is listed in the
- If the individual was visiting from another country and faces an allegation,
the individual is listed in the U.S. diocese where he or she worked.
- If an individual is sued after his or her death and the lawsuit is
against his or her estate, diocese, or religious order, the individual
- If an individual faces an accusation that was the subject of an alternative dispute resolution or independent compensation program with an established protocol for evaluating allegations and harm, and if compensation was offered to a person who alleged sexual abuse as a minor by the individual, the individual is listed in the database.
- If a lawsuit is against the church or a bishop for negligence, and
the accused individual is not a defendant in the lawsuit, the individual
is included in the database, if the lawsuit asserts allegations of sexual
abuse. However, individuals accused of negligence or cover-up, but not
of sexual abuse, are not included in the database.
- If an individual is found not guilty or not liable after a trial,
but other victims have come forward with allegations, the individual
is listed in the database, and a note about the acquittal or defense
finding is included in the Notes field.
- If a survivor publicly withdraws an allegation, recants, or states
that the alleged perpetrator has been misidentified, and if there are
no other allegations of abuse against the accused cleric, that cleric
is removed from the database. If an allegation is withdrawn by a victim
and this withdrawal is not reported by the news media, then there is
a chance that the current status of this allegation is not reported
in the database, despite our best efforts. If notified, we will correct
our database entry.
- If a person who alleges abuse is indicted and convicted of extortion
in the filing of his or her abuse claim, and if no other allegations
have been made against the cleric, that cleric is removed from the database.
Retraction and Correction Policy
BishopAccountability.org is committed to truth, accuracy, and fairness.
Corrections and comments on information appearing in the database are
encouraged and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If BishopAccountability.org discovers facts establishing that any information
appearing in the database is inaccurate, we will promptly take appropriate
action, including but not limited to revising, correcting or withdrawing
Conventions, Searches, and Printing
The columns in the database are labeled as follows:
- Last = Last Name
- First = First Name
- T = Type. P=Priest, B=Brother, S=Seminarian, D=Deacon, N=Nun
- Status = Status of legal action if one exists
- D/O = Diocesan or Order employee. D=Diocesan O=Order
- Notes = Notes about legal action or allegation.
- Diocese = Primary diocese in which the individual worked
- ST = State in which the diocese is located
- Source = newspaper citation or docket number of legal action
A search of a page can be done quickly by using Find (under Edit in the
Browser Menu) or typing Ctrl-F.
If you wish to print a smaller section of this large database, instead
of printing a whole page, use your mouse to position the cursor at the
top left corner of the area that you want to print. Then hold down the
left button of your mouse while you draw the mouse down and to the right.
When you have used this method to highlight the portion you wish to print,
select the print command, click "Selection" in the Page Range
part of the Print dialogue box, and then click "Print."
People Who Have Contributed
to the Database
BishopAccountability.org, Inc. is solely responsible for the information
in this database, for its accuracy, and for any errors it might contain.
We pay tribute to the survivors who have bravely come forward, and to
the reporters, advocates, attorneys, and judges who brought those allegations
before the public.
We thank the volunteers who have participated in the SurvivorsFirst.org
and BishopAccountability.org database efforts. BishopAccountability.org
is particularly grateful to Sylvia Demarest for the donation of her database,
and to her colleague, Trish McLelland.
Thanks also to the priests who have contacted us with corrections to the
database. A few bishops have publicly announced the names of accused priests
against whom there were no known public allegations. We thank them for