Dec. 28, 2019
By Deb Belt
A former Catholic priest has been on the Maryland sex offender registry since 2005 after serving time in prison for possession of child pornography and then violating the terms of his probation by having contact with children. But Richard J. Poster, 54, who lives in Silver Spring, was not on a church list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse until this month.
Poster, who admitted masturbating in the bushes near a church school, was only added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse after The Associated Press asked why he was not included, according to an investigation by the news service. Despite the church’s release of nearly 5,300 names in recent years, victim advocates say the lists are incomplete.
An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members nationwide accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists. The AP reached that number by matching the public diocesan lists against a database of accused priests tracked by the group BishopAccountability.org and then scouring bankruptcy documents, lawsuits, settlement information, grand jury reports and media accounts.
More than a hundred of the former clergy members not listed by dioceses or religious orders had been charged with sexual crimes, including rape, solicitation and receiving or viewing child pornography. Church officials say that without an admission of guilt, they have to weigh releasing a name against harming the reputation of priests who may have been falsely accused and facing lawsuits from those who maintain their innocence.
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