Bishop Releases More Names of Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

Bishop Accountability [Wilmington DE]
November 16, 2006

Bishop Saltarelli has released the names of 18 diocesan priests — eight still living — about whom the diocese has received "admitted, corroborated or otherwise substantiated" allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

In a list accompanying a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Wilmington in today's Dialog, the bishop also includes the names of two living priests from other dioceses who ministered here and were accused of sexual abuse elsewhere.

The list does not include when or where the abuse occurred or how many minors were involved.

Of the 20 priests listed, the names of 10 had previously been released publicly, either by the diocese or by media outlets, as The Dialog went to press Tuesday. The list does not include names of any accused religiousorder priests who worked in the diocese.

In his letter, Bishop Saltarelli says he is disclosing the names after "extensive consultation" with the Diocesan Review Board, the largely lay panel formed to comply with the U.S. bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People issued in 2002.

The bishop cites the recent arrest in Syracuse, N.Y., of Francis G. DeLuca, a priest who formerly served in this diocese, as one reason he decided to publish the names. DeLuca, 77, was arrested last month and charged with sexually abusing a Syracuse boy, now 18, for several years from when the boy was 12 or 13 until he was 17. DeLuca was removed from public ministry in 1993 and was allowed to retire to Syracuse, his hometown.

The diocese said Oct. 26 that it has asked the Vatican to permanently remove DeLuca from the priesthood, a process known as laicization.

"I am deeply troubled, and profoundly regret, that a priest of this diocese, removed from ministry so many years ago, has once again sexually abused a minor," the bishop writes. "I am deeply sorry for this, and apologize to the victim and his family for their suffering."

By disclosing the names and locations of other living priests with substantiated allegations against them, the bishop adds, "we perhaps in some way may help prevent or deter any further incidents."

His second reason for releasing the names, the bishop writes, "is to continue the efforts of our diocese to encourage victims of clerical sexual abuse to come forward and seek help. The first obligation of the church is to assist in the healing of these victims."

Information about the eight living diocesan priests on the list was previously disclosed to law enforcement agencies in Delaware and Maryland, "depending on where the alleged abuse occurred," the bishop writes.

"All of these living priests were removed from ministry between 1985-2003, and the names of all but two of them were previously disclosed publicly by the diocese or others."

The diocese also previously informed civil authorities in Delaware or Maryland of the allegations against all of the deceased priests.

Last year the diocese reported that it had received credible or substantiated allegations involving 20 diocesan priests. The bishop said he is not releasing the names of two of those priests, both deceased, because "although the allegation against each of these priests was credible, in the judgment of the Diocesan Review Board neither of these complaints has yet been substantiated."

The bishop says "it is with some hesitancy" that he is disclosing the names of the deceased priests. "The priests can no longer harm anyone, and several of them died before they were accused. I regret any further suffering that their victims may endure as a result of this disclosure and any sorrow or embarrassment that their families and friends may experience."

By identifying those priests, the bishop writes, "[perhaps] some of their victims may be motivated to seek help."

In his letter the bishop reports that the diocese spent $112,697 in settlements, victims' assistance and legal fees between October 2005 and October 2006.

Since the U.S. bishops addressed the clergy sexabuse scandal at a meeting in Dallas in 2002, only a handful of U.S. dioceses have released the names of priests and other church workers charged with sexual abuse or found to have had credible accusations against them.

Since the bishops formulated the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People four years ago, four annual audits have found the Diocese of Wilmington to be in full compliance with the charter.

In his letter, Bishop Saltarelli discusses the steps the diocese has taken to protect children, including: background checks of all employees and volunteers who have regular contact with minors; strengthened standards of ethical behavior for church personnel and volunteers; implementation of a Safe Environments programs with training of parish, school and other institutional staff in recognizing and preventing child abuse.

"The abuse of children by priests and other clergy is shocking and reprehensible," Bishop Saltarelli writes.

"Victims and their families have suffered devastating harm. The faithful of the Church and the overwhelming number of good priests who serve them also have suffered through this crisis. I reaffirm my commitment to deal effectively and appropriately with complaints of sexual abuse of minors by priests, deacons and other Church personnel. I recommit myself to care for the emotional, pastoral and spiritual well-being of those who have suffered, and to take all appropriate steps to prevent any further abuse of children and young people."


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