Its Own List of Molester Priests
The church tally of 54 differs from the Philadelphia grand jury's count of 63, and provides minimal detail.
By Jim Remsen
September 25, 2005
In the wake of the grand jury report into clergy sex abuse, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has publicly issued its list of 54 molester priests - the full tally from 50 years, it says - along with a brief account of their clerical status.
The church tally falls short of the Philadelphia grand jury's count of 63, and far below the 169 the jury said had been accused. The archdiocese maintained that it represented the total who had been under its direct control.
The public disclosure is an about-face for the archdiocese. For years, it had joined with most other U.S. dioceses in refusing to divulge a full list of identities despite demands from victims and church activists.
"It's a good first step," said Marie Whitehead, local director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests and Other Clergy. She called on archdiocese officials to give more information about the men, and to visit parishes where they had served to invite any other victims to come forward.
"The confidentiality imposed by the grand jury" had prevented the archdiocese from releasing its list until the secret proceeding was formally concluded on Wednesday, church spokeswoman Donna Farrell said yesterday.
Legal scholar and abuse-victim advocate Marci Hamilton, who was a special assistant to the grand jury, dismissed that assertion. Though grand jury proceedings are secret, Hamilton said, parties are always free to make "independently available information" public.
Unlike the extensively detailed grand jury report, the archdiocese list
provides minimal information. It does not say what each priest is credibly
accused of doing, nor when, nor at what parishes. Nor does it divulge
the whereabouts of the living abusers.
The five new priests who could be defrocked are the Revs. Craig R. Brugger, accused of abusing a boy; Francis J. Gallagher, who admitted abusing two teens; James M. Iannarella, accused of abusing a girl; James E. McGuire, accused of abusing three boys; and David E. Walls, accused of trying to assault a girl.
The five who were also on the grand jury list are the Rev. Edward V. Avery, accused of abusing a boy; William J. Dougherty, accused of abusing a girl; Michael J. McCarthy, accused a molesting a boy; David C. Sicoli, accused of abusing at least 11 boys; and Thomas J. Smith, accused of "depraved" acts with numerous boys.
Eleven priests were defrocked earlier this year, so this could bring to 21 the number of abusers that could be thrown out of the priesthood here.
The Vatican-approved defrockings return the men to the lay state, meaning they are no longer supported or monitored by the church. Because the alleged abuse occurred decades ago, the time limit on prosecutions has expired. And because they have not been convicted of any criminal charges, they would not be placed on Megan's List, as many other sex offenders are.
Farrell declined to say whether the archdiocese would alert civil authorities when any of the men are defrocked, or would try to maintain contact with them. With its recent defrockings, the archdiocese said it does not notify authorities or stay in touch with the men.
Farrell declined to give the whereabouts of the 10 men who face defrocking or say whether they were living in supervised church facilities pending the outcomes of their cases.
The archdiocese has special arrangements for suspended priests to live under supervision at the Villa St. Joseph home in Darby. The church has said that 20 men who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse live there in lieu of being defrocked.
Nine priests on the grand jury tally are not on the church's list. Six were from religious orders or other dioceses, meaning they served in the archdiocese but were not under its direct supervision. Two others, the Revs. Robert L. Brennan and John H. Mulholland, were found by the church to have not committed sex abuse as defined by church norms.
Farrell said she could not immediately account for why the ninth one, the Rev. Joseph F. Sabadish, was not listed by the church.
Hamilton, the legal scholar, lamented that the defrocked men will be released without oversight.
"The statute of limitations in their cases ran out, and you cannot retroactively criminally indict them," she said. "The only hope is to create a window for civil liability so you can still sue the perpetrator and the church for he what done, which opens the possibility of a public list with the perpetrators.
"That's what's so tragic about the situation," she said. "If every one of them had been reported and incarcerated, the whole community would have known and they would have been put on lists. But because it was kept secret, they will be running around the community and there's no way to penalize them. Unless there's civil liability, they are completely anonymous."
[Contact Faith Life editor Jim Remsen at 215-854-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org]
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