CBS News [Baltimore, MD]
June 30, 2023
By Christian Olaniran
The Archdiocese of Baltimore added 42 names to its list of those accused of child sexual abuse, but some survivors told WJZ the church should have made them public long ago.
It is one of the biggest expansions of the list since the archdiocese began publishing it 21 years ago.
WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren spoke to Dave Lorenz of the Survivors Network of Those Abuse by Priests.
“They had to be forced into revealing these names by the Attorney General and by supporters and by the press,” Lorenz said. “All three combined have made them so embarrassed that they had to publish these names.”
Thirty-three of the newly-named people on the list are dead.
Many were included in the Maryland Attorney General’s landmark report detailing decades of abuse within and enabled by the church.
“All of this is simply rubbing salt into the wound,” Lorenz said. “And it really rubs it deep when they sit there and try to claim a victory for doing this, ‘Look how great we are for publishing 42 names.'”
The Archdiocese told WJZ in a statement that “the addition of these names to our public database builds on the Archdiocese’s long-standing commitment to transparency, healing and to ridding the Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse.”
The church said the names were not previously disclosed because they did not belong to priests or assigned to ministry—or accused after death of a single, uncorroborated allegation.
John Merzbacher is new on the list.
The former teacher died in prison after being convicted of abusing Liz Murphy, who sat down with Hellgren last November.
“At the age of 11, 12 and 13, he raped me. He threatened me. He put a gun to my head,” Murphy said. “John Merzbacher going to jail will never restore my childhood or all that I have lost from his brutality. But [his conviction] was only half justice. The other half has been how the Archdiocese of Baltimore has never been held accountable.”
In a news release Friday, the Archdiocese said Archbishop William Lori recommended the names be made public.
“Join with me, please, in prayer that victim-survivors find comfort and peace from our Lord, God and Savior—for Jesus Christ’s love can heal the harm created by the failure of men,” Archbishop Lori said in the news release. “The additions of these names to our public database build on the Archdiocese’s longstanding commitment to child protection.”
According to the Archdiocese, three of the 42 people were not part of the Attorney General’s report:
“Phillip Linden, a Josephite priest whose ministry included service at Francis Xavier (East Baltimore) in the early 1970s. See press release HERE. Michael Miller, a Conventual Franciscan Friar who worked at Archbishop Curley High School from 1994-1995 & 2003-2006. See other details HERE. Joseph O’Meara, a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore who is retired and whose faculties have previously been removed. Please see HERE for assignments.”
“The message shouldn’t be how great we are,” Lorenz said. “The message should be, ‘We’re sorry we didn’t publish these names in the first place.'”
Lorenz told Hellgren he does not believe he will get that apology.
“No, I don’t ever expect anything from the diocese any longer,” he said. “They are incapable of handling this issue and they’ve shown it time and time and time again.”
Lorenz had a message to survivors still struggling to come to terms with their abuse.
“You are not alone. It is not your fault. And it is time to unload the guilt and the shame that you’ve been carrying for decades.”