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  List Will Name Accused Priests
Group's report finds none still in ministry

By Brian Lewis
Tennessean
August 20, 2002

http://www.tennessean.com/local/archives/02/08/21316313.shtml

A group of Catholics plans to release a list of at least 10 priests it believes have sexually abused minors in the Diocese of Nashville, including priests who have not been named before, said one member.

The list supports statements by diocesan officials that no one currently working in ministry has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor, said Mike Coode, a member of Voice of the Faithful. The local and national Catholic group was formed in response to the priest sex abuse scandals.

Compiled from discussions with survivors of abuse, the list goes back 50 years and includes four priests who are dead, said Coode, who said he was abused by the Rev. Roger Lott, a Benedictine priest, more than four decades ago.

Besides Lott, Coode said, the list will include three other priests who have been previously named. Franklin T. Richards and Edward J. McKeown were removed from ministry in 1989 because of allegations of abuse. A third, Paul Frederick Haas, died in 1978.

The main reasons to release the list are to help people heal and to remove the shame many survivors have, Coode said.

''We're not doing this out of spite or anything,'' he said. ''We're doing this out of a sense of closure.''

Coode is a member of a subcommittee that plans to discuss the list at a Sept. 5 meeting.

Committee members, who include survivors of abuse and their relatives, have not set a date when the information would be released.

Coode said the group had not met with a lawyer to discuss legal issues that could arise.

Releasing a list of priests alleged to be abusers — but unconfirmed by a diocese or the courts — would be unprecedented, according to the president of an international support group for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The Rev. Gary Hayes, a priest who is president of Link-Up, said his group published a list of priests accused of abuse on its Web site. Link-Up took down the list when it learned some priests had been cleared in court or that there was little evidence, Hayes said.

''We probably wouldn't put it back up again,'' Hayes said. ''I would think (a list) would need to be checked very well.''

Nashville diocese spokesman Rick Musacchio said the only allegations the diocese has recently received date back more than 20 years and implicate priests who are dead or retired.

''A report that old, it's impossible to investigate,'' Musacchio said. ''The position we've taken is that we take them at their word and offer to help them heal.''

The diocese has paid for victims to have counseling, even when it has not been able to verify claims of abuse, Musacchio said.

The diocese is cautious about naming priests as abusers when the allegations can't be investigated because the priests are entitled to due process, he said.

The diocese's policy on sexual abuse is that any reports of abuse are forwarded to civil authorities and the diocese cooperates fully with all investigations. Any person credibly accused of abuse is removed from ministry.

Brian Lewis covers religion. Contact him at 259-8077 or brlewis@tennessean.com.

 
 

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