‘Stunned and shaken’: Sacramento diocese list of accused priests insufficient, victims say

Sacramento Bee

May 1, 2019

By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

Sex abuse victims and advocates are unmoved by the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento’s disclosure of 46 clergy members who were accused of sexually abusing more than 100 people, arguing the release of the list Tuesday is too little, too late.

The diocese found 44 priests and two deacons in the Sacramento area had been credibly accused of sexually abusing roughly 130 children and adults in the last seven decades. Bishop Jaime Soto told The Sacramento Bee on Monday, “it speaks to the cultural pathology of how we allowed this to happen” and “there was no excuse for it.”

David Clohessy, the former executive director at the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, criticized Soto for trying to “minimize the crisis and fixate on the past while essentially ignoring the real issue which is danger in the present.”

“I just keep shaking my head and thinking, why didn’t Soto do this his first week or month on the job, and how many kids have been hurt needlessly as a result?” Clohessy said.

The diocese should have released the names of priests accused of sexual abuse as cases were corroborated, said Northern California leader for SNAP Joey Piscitelli. Doing so would have given victims more flexibility in pursuing legal action, he said.

“Today these names prove they kept names secret and hidden from the public,” Piscitelli said. “But now the statute of limitations have run out on these cases, and that’s because the diocese enabled them to.”

Advocates are also concerned that the list lacked certain information, such as the current whereabouts of those named, which Clohessy described as “incredibly irresponsible.” Some dioceses, such as the Catholic Diocese of Erie in Pennsylvania, have released the current or last known locations of living clergy accused of abuse or other inappropriate behavior.

“Soto should be taking out full-page newspaper ads in the counties where his priests are still around kids,” he said.

Clohessy hopes the release of the list will push victims and “every single person who saw abuse no matter how long ago, no matter how seemingly slight “ to call their local police department and the California attorney general’s office, which is collecting complaints of clergy abuse.

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