KANSAS CITY (MO)
National Catholic Reporter
November 25, 2020
By Mark Nacinovich
As U.S. dioceses continue to pay out big settlements for lawsuits, the church is facing another nettlesome problem stemming from the abuse scandal: Priests who say they were falsely accused are suing for defamation.
In August 2018, shortly after a Pennsylvania grand jury report listed more than 300 priests in six dioceses in the state who had been credibly accused of abusing more than 1,000 minors since 1947, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the three dioceses in his state to turn over files on church personnel credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1978.
Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha complied with that request, and in November 2018, the Omaha Archdiocese published a list of the names of 38 priests and deacons who had faced “substantiated claims” of abuse in the archdiocese.
The fallout from that list reverberates today. One of the priests whose name was on it — Fr. Andrew Syring — is suing the Omaha Archdiocese for defamation, counted among those priests who say they have been unfairly swept up in the church’s effort to repair its reputation and put the crisis behind it.
Lyle Koenig, Syring’s lawyer, said his client’s defamation suit is one of 20 to 25 similar cases in the country. By comparison, 7,002 priests were “credibly” or “not implausibly” accused of abuse in the U.S. between 1950 and June 30, 2018, according to BishopAccountability.org, which cited published information from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.