Yakima Diocese may post names of accused priests

Yakima Herald-Republic

February 26, 2019

By Jane Gargas

Next month the Catholic Diocese of Yakima is considering taking a new — and very public — approach to dealing with sex abuse by members of the clergy.

The Diocesan Lay Advisory Board will discuss at its March meeting whether the diocese should post on its website the names of clergy who have served here and have had credible allegations of sex abuse of a minor made against them.

The group, which meets quarterly, investigates allegations of sexual misconduct in the local Catholic Church. Once they determine whether to publish or not, members will make a recommendation to Bishop Joseph Tyson, who will make the ultimate decision.

“I am leaning one way, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to say before discussing it with the board,” said lay advisory board chair, Russ Mazzola, a Yakima attorney.

Other board members are Jorge Torres, a psychologist; Tom Dittmar, who has a background in law enforcement; Dr. Mark Maiocco, a physician; Monsignor John Ecker, pastor at St. Paul Cathedral, and Elizabeth Torres, an environmental health-project coordinator.

Tyson confirmed that the board is exploring ways to demonstrate more openness.

“Not just in light of the church’s sexual abuse scandals, but the wider scandals involving Penn State football, Olympic gymnastics, and even the #metoo movement, transparency is the key,” he wrote in an email to a reporter.

The two other dioceses in Washington, Seattle and Spokane, publish names of cleric sex abusers on their websites. The Archdiocese of Seattle posted a list of 77 names of offending priests in January 2016, and several more names have since been added.

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