Abuse Victims Renew Call to Publish Names of Abusive Priests in Charleston
By Christina Elmore
Post and Courier
January 26, 2016
|Barbara Dorris, outreach director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and Allen Sires of North Charleston stand in front of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston on Tuesday to protest the actions of the Catholic church in regard to how they handle sexual abuse by clergy. PAUL ZOELLER/STAFF|
Two victims of childhood sexual abuse renewed calls Tuesday for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston to publish a list of priests accused of misconduct with minors.
The local call came on the heels of recent litigation alleging that a man was left out of a 2007 class-action suit against the diocese and the release earlier this month of 77 names by the Archdiocese of Seattle.
|Barbara Dorris, outreach director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, holds a photo of herself at the age she was sexually abused by her priest as she protests the actions of the Catholic church in regard to how they handle sexual abuse by clergy. Paul Zoeller/Staff|
The list of priests and other clergy represents those who have lived or served in western Washington since the 1920s and “for whom allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been admitted, established or determined to be credible,” according to The Associated Press.
The Charleston diocese told The Post and Courier in 2014 that 32 priests are alleged to have abused minors in its jurisdiction since 1950, but the priests were never publicly identified by the church.
Standing a stone’s throw from the church’s waterfront property on West Ashley’s Orange Grove Road, two abuse victims said the release of the names is both necessary and long overdue.
“It’s the bare minimum they can do — that they admit these credibly accused predators have worked in this diocese — so that victims can come forward and parents can protect their children,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis. “Show the kids that the predator won’t be supported.”
Dorris, 68, serves as the outreach director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. She held on Tuesday a black-and-white photo of herself as a 6-year-old girl clad in a white dress, a veil and a smile. She was raped by a priest in the 1950s.
|Allen Sires of North Charleston was a victim of sexual abuse by his priest and joined to protest the actions of the Catholic church in regard to how they handle sexual abuse by clergy. Paul Zoeller/Staff|
Allen Sires, 49, of North Charleston joined Dorris on Tuesday. He was a 13-year-old altar boy in the diocese when he was abused by the Rev. James Nyhan, a visiting priest from Boston.
More than 30 bishops across the country have publicized the identities of known abusive priests, Dorris and Sires said. The pair spoke out to encourage local Bishop Robert Guglielmone to do the same.
The Charleston diocese declined to do so in a statement.
“Officials with the Diocese of Charleston do not plan to release the names of accused priests who are dead. Doing so would do nothing to advance the Diocese’s mission of protecting children,” the statement said.
The diocese has taken steps to prevent abuse by immediately investigating and temporarily suspending the accused, according to the statement.
“If he is assigned to a parish, diocesan officials then tell the congregation about the allegation and officials report the allegation to civil authorities,” the statement said.
Allegations are then presented to a review board to determine credibility, the church said.
The diocese is “working diligently” to resolve a number of pending lawsuits related to the alleged sexual misconduct, the latest of which was filed in Charleston County in October by attorney Gregg Meyers.
That case centers on the abuse faced by a victim identified in court documents only as John Doe 245. He and his father are plaintiffs in the suit. The victim, who lives out of state, was born in 1977 and sexually abused by Fr. Justin Goodwin at the Divine Redeemer church in Hanahan. Goodwin was sentenced in 1995 to five years of probation for molesting four boys in the mid- to late-1970s. He died not long after his trial.
The father and son are suing church officials and attorneys for not being notified and allowed inclusion into a class-action suit against the Diocese of Charleston that was closed to victims outside of South Carolina, according to court documents. The plaintiffs have also alleged negligence on the part of the diocese’s officials for not locating Goodwin’s other victims and doing more to disclose Goodwin’s sexual interest in children, the documents stated.
The diocese settled the class-action suit in 2007 for up to $12 million divided among nearly 150 people whose lives were damaged by sexually abusive priests, according to 2014 documents. The church is currently suing its insurance companies to help cover the costs.