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  Three Fairbanks Diocese Priests Accused
Gone: Two Are Dead and the Other Is Not Ministering but under Investigation

By Nicole Tsong
Anchorage Daily News (Alaska)
December 5, 2003

A Fairbanks Catholic Church official revealed Thursday that three priests who served that diocese have been accused of sexually abusing minors in the past.

One of the priests left Fairbanks 15 years ago and is living elsewhere, while the other two are dead, he said.

The Rev. Richard Case, chancellor of the Diocese of Fairbanks, said one of the dead priests is the Rev. Jules Convert. Well-publicized allegations against Convert are the basis of a civil lawsuit filed by eight plaintiffs this year against the diocese and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province.

But Case would not identify the other dead priest or the third priest, who he said is no longer in ministry.

Case said one allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was made by a person in Alaska this year against the priest, who left Fairbanks years ago for another diocese. The priest served in Fairbanks for around 30 years, he said.

The Fairbanks diocese and the priest's current diocese are looking into the allegation, Case said.

All American dioceses have been directed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to review records of their priests and deacons going back to 1950 and report allegations of sexual abuse they uncover to the bishop's National Review Board, which is studying the scope and cause of sexual misconduct by Roman Catholic priests.

Last month, the Anchorage Archdiocese reported it uncovered sexual abuse allegations against 16 priests among the 80 personnel files that were reviewed.

Five of those priests had been accused of abusing minors while in Alaska, and another two had been accused of abusing minors before coming to the archdiocese, while the others engaged in misconduct with adults.

Case would not elaborate on the allegations or give details about where the priest worked in the Fairbanks diocese, which extends from Bethel to Barrow and east to Eagle.

"This is something that just hasn't matured," Case said. "It's in process. It's something to not be brought out for the sake of the person involved."

He wouldn't say how the most recent allegation was brought forward, only that it was "complicated."

There are no priests serving in the Fairbanks diocese now who have been accused of sexual misconduct, Case said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also has required dioceses to undergo an audit of their sexual abuse policies. Auditors recommended this year that Case step down from the position of victim's assistance coordinator because of a conflict of interest and that the diocese find a new coordinator, Case said.

The diocese has since worked out an agreement with a Fairbanks agency that has taken on that role, he said.

 
 

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