Archdiocese of Indianapolis Plans to Release Names of Priests Accused of Abuse
By Vic Ryckaert and Mark Alesia
August 30, 2018
The Indianapolis archbishop says he plans to publicly release the names of all of the priests in his diocese who have faced substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse.
The move also follows the suspension of a retired priest from all church ministry following an allegation that he abused a child.
Archbishop Charles C. Thompson on Wednesday issued an open letter addressing the sex abuse scandal stemming from the release earlier this month of a sweeping Pennsylvania grand jury report. The report linked thousands of victims to more than 300 priests over 70 years.
"When I was called to be a bishop just more than seven years ago, I wanted to believe that the Church had effectively dealt with the crisis of clergy sexual abuse, especially in terms of accountability and transparency," he said in the letter.
"Itís as if a dark, heavy pall has been thrust upon us yet again."
Thompson apologized to all victims in the letter and pledged to take action. He said he plans to prepare and publish a list of all clergy members with a "substantiated claim" of sexual abuse against a child.
"We must do everything necessary to make sure neither abuse nor cover-up ever happens again," he said.
An advocate for those who were abused by priests said the move toward greater transparency is long overdue.
"This should have been done years ago," Judy Jones, Midwest regional leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told IndyStar in an email. "Apparently because of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, bishops are getting scared that there will be other Grand Jury investigations in their states."
Jones said her organization is urging attorneys general in other states to do their own investigations into sexual abuse within the Catholic church.
"Every diocese is run the same," she said.
Robert Hoatson, a former priest and president of Road to Recovery, a New Jersey group that assists victims of sexual abuse, said lists of accused clergy are helpful. But that comes with a caveat.
"If the bishop of Indianapolis is going to be transparent and honest about the allegations, then we applaud that," Hoatson said. "Our experience has caused us to be skeptical because the church has a tendency not to be able to police itself. We would prefer turning over all the documents he has to law enforcement so we can get the true number.Ē
In March, the Diocese of Buffalo released a list of 42 names of accused priests. Television station WKBW later reported that the list omitted dozens of additional priests who were accused of sexual misconduct with adult women or men.
Hoatson said he believes the omission was deliberate.
"I think they're trying to minimize the effect of the large numbers," he said. "But what they're doing is just delaying the inevitable."
The first list of priests accused of abuse to be released by dioceses and religious orders was issued by the Diocese of Tucson in 2002, according to the website BishopAccountability.org.
The website, an exhaustive repository of information on the church's abuse crisis, has links to lists of priests released by more than 50 dioceses and religious orders. The website says the release of such lists is often imposed as part of a court settlement.
The purpose of maintaining the site, it says, is to "help expose bishops who have abused children or vulnerable adults, or have aided abusers."
On Tuesday, the Diocese of Gary released the names of 10 former priests who the diocese has deemed guilty of sexually abusing children. The document also includes the number of allegations made against the priests and the actions taken by church officials. The information is based on diocesan records.
The list didnít report whether any of the men, seven of whom are dead, ever faced criminal prosecution for their alleged child sex abuse.
What constitutes "substantiated" claims of abuse by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is unclear. A request for further information on the archbishop's plan was not immediately returned Thursday.
The archbishop's announcement comes after a retired priest was suspended by the Archdiocese of Indianapolis after someone alleged sexual abuse.
The Rev. John Maung, 79, is prohibited from all public ministry while an investigation is pending, the archdiocese said in a statement posted on its website. The statement said a person told the archdiocese that they were abused by Maung as a child several decades ago.
Maung has denied the allegation, the archdiocese said. The archdiocese did not release details about the alleged abuse or the accuser, including his or her gender or age.
Maung retired in 2009 but continued assisting at parishes. He is now suspended and prohibited from all public ministry.
IndyStar reached out to Maung through the archdiocese seeking comment.
He has served at the St. Lawrence parish in Indianapolis, the St. Gabriel parish in Connersville and the St. Joseph parish in Shelbyville and resided at the Holy Spirit parish in Indianapolis.
The allegations have been referred to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and police in Shelby County, a spokesman for the archdiocese said.
This isn't the first time Maung has drawn inquiries from the church.
In 1998, Maung was pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church when an audit discovered the coffers were short about $75,000.
Prosecutors charged Maung with five felonies and accused him of stealing about $14,500. Four other former church employees were also charged.
Defense attorneys characterized the evidence as weak and spent months criticizing prosecutors for filing the case. More than a year later, a special prosecutor abruptly dismissed the charges. The prosecutor declined to discuss why.
IndyStar reported at the time that Maung and his supporters planned to reimburse the church more than $29,000 as part of a confidential civil agreement.
While investigating the Shelby County case, detectives discovered that Maung had been convicted in 1979 of check deception and grand theft involving a California church.
Maung was accused of stealing to support a gambling habit after $100,000 had been misappropriated from the Epiphany Church in San Francisco's Mission District.
Maung lost his job and served 60 days in jail, the Archdiocese of San Francisco told IndyStar in December 1998.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.