Evansville Diocese to List Names of Priests Accused of Abuse
By Sam Lucero
September 21, 2018
Evansville Bishop Joseph M. Siegel announced Thursday the Evansville Diocese will collect and release the names of priests in the diocese who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors over the years.
Siegel declined to give any kind of timeline for the release of names.
“We are doing this in the hope that the listing of these priests and their current statuses will help in the process of healing for those who have been affected by clergy sexual abuse," Siegel told The Message, the diocese newspaper. "We also hope it may encourage others who have experienced sexual abuse by clergy or other church ministers to come forward.”
This announcement comes about two weeks after an Evansville Diocese priest was put on administrative leave after the diocese received a report of sexual misconduct.
Father David Fleck denies the claim of sexual misconduct that reportedly happened decades ago, according to the statement from the diocese.
Fleck, 69, has served in a number of schools and parishes throughout the diocese, including Mater Dei High School and Vincennes' Rivet High School.
Diocese spokesman Tim Lilley said the church reported the information it received to the Knox County prosecutor and State of Indiana’s Child Protective Services hotline. The diocese also initiated its own internal investigation, which is ongoing. In the meantime, Fleck is prohibited from all public ministry.
In December 2003, Evansville church leaders said 15 priests in the local diocese had been accused of sexually abusing minors over the previous 60 years.
Siegel said they'd compile the names of those accused who had been published in The Message, as well as review records dating to the diocese's founding in 1944.
Siegel, according to The Message, will seek the guidance of the Diocesan Review Board.
The review board was formed after the "Policies and Procedures Regarding Clerical Sexual Misconduct with Minors" was ratified by U.S. bishops in 2002. The policy established the review board, a victim assistance coordinator and a promoter of justice.
“While we are working on this report as expeditiously as possible, we need to take sufficient time to be sure that it is accurate," Siegel told The Message.
The move follows similar efforts in Northern Indiana and around the country. The Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese recently released the names of 17 priests accused of misconduct, according to the Catholic News Service.
In California, the San Jose and San Bernadino churches announced they planned to release names, as well.
It all comes in the wake of a major scandal in Pittsburgh, where a grand jury report unearthed decades of priest abuse and cover-ups by those in power.
Victims of sexual misconduct by a priest or a person ministering on behalf of the church, or those who know of a victim are asked to contact police and the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 812-490-9565 or toll-free at 1-866-200-3004.