Watchdog groups accuse Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland of lack of transparency in handling of sex abuse claims

WKYC-TV, NBC - 3 [Cleveland OH]

April 10, 2024

By Tyler Carey

[VIDEO] Calling Bishop Edward Malesic ‘one of the most secretive bishops in the United States,’ activists demanded the diocese share more details on clergy accused of abuse.

Activists from two of the nation’s leading groups speaking out against child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy held a press conference outside the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Wednesday to condemn Cleveland Bishop Edward Malesic for what they say is his inadequate handling of such cases.

Administrators from and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called Malesic “one of the most secretive bishops in the United States” in regard to sharing information about abusers, both living and deceased. They also revealed a list of 50 clergymen whom they believe should be added to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland’s current public record of 51 clerics with “substantiated allegations” of sexual abuse against minors.

“Bishop Malesic knows that it is instrumental to victims’ healing and child protection to release full details about abusers in the diocese,” Co-Director Anne Barrett Doyle said. “He is leaving dozens and dozens of abusers off his list, and he knows this.”

The Catholic clergy abuse scandal exploded in the United States in 2002, when The Boston Globe discovered scores of priests in its archdiocese facing such claims as well as a pattern of cover-up by faith leaders like Cardinal Bernard Law. Similar stories soon began appearing in dioceses across the country, including Cleveland, which began strengthening its anti-abuse policies and publishing the names of all clergy accused of misconduct since 2002.

Yet it wasn’t until 2019 (a year prior to Malesic’s appointment) than then Bishop Nelson Pérez authorized the public naming of more than 20 clerics who were credibly accused of sex abuse prior to 2002, with most of the men having already died by that time. While those cases as well as others since have brought the current amount to 51, Doyle says it should be much longer, citing a list of 145 suspected abusers compiled in 2002 by then Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason. Due to statutes of limitations, Mason was barred from revealing every name except one.

“The diocese knows the identity of those 145 priests,” Doyle declared. “It is a lack of compassion and a lack of honesty to not release those names, and I would say, too, that it is a potential public safety crisis.”

To partly illustrate her larger point, Doyle brought up a case just made public last week from Saint Ignatius High School, where an investigation ruled Jesuit priest Frank Canfield had abused a student during his time as a chaplain from 2006-14. Doyle commended both the Jesuits and the school for their transparency, with Saint Ignatius even publishing frequently asked questions on its website and providing resources for other potential victims to share their stories.

By contrast, while the Diocese of Cleveland does provide the names of suspected abusers, it does not share specific information on their alleged crimes. Doyle cited the Rev. Frank Klamet, a diocesan priest in Bay Village and elsewhere who died before his name was published in 2019.

“He abused girls and young women; I know this because I know his victims,” Doyle said while holding up a picture of Klamet. “The diocese only says his ordination date and the fact that he’s deceased. What they’re not telling you is that he had multiple victims, Not only that — knowing that he abused girls and young women, they allowed him to become a medical doctor, a family practitioner with specialization in OBGYN.”

Doyle is now calling on Malesic to follow the example of other dioceses and share more details on these suspected abusive priests, even if they are dead. She also says she was “stunned” to look at lists from other dioceses and see what she says were names of other clergy “who had worked here in Cleveland for some or all or part of their career,” yet were not themselves named by the Diocese of Cleveland.

Many of those already public names were shared by on Wednesday, but Doyle and Ohio of SNAP leader Claudia Vercellotti also shared the identities of 11 men not currently listed by any diocese or religious order as a suspected abuser. One of those is the Rev. Anthony Schuerger, former pastor of St. Malachi Parish in Cleveland who was initially placed on administrative leave when the new list came out in 2019.

3News Investigates detailed the allegations against Schuerger two years later, speaking with a women who filed a report claiming the priest had touched her inappropriately as an 8-year-old in 1990 while Schuerger was working at St. Raphael in Bay Village. At the time, the diocese stated that Schuerger was still on leave pending an investigation, but WKYC has now confirmed he is no longer listed with other clerics accused of abuse. His current status is “awaiting assignment,” and St. Malachi has scheduled a special celebration for him the weekend of April 20.

“After a thorough investigation conducted by civil authorities and the Diocesan Review Board, Fr. Tony is granted the use of his priestly faculties and awaits a new assignment,” the Rev. Michael Gurnick, current pastor at St. Malachi, wrote in a letter to parishioners back in January. “Please continue to keep Father Schuerger in your prayers. I know he is most grateful for your continued love and support.”

The other 10 names include Bishop Floyd Begin, who served as Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland from 1947-62. NBC Bay Area has reported on a recent lawsuit accusing the now deceased Begin of assaulting a 12-year-old girl during his time as Bishop of Oakland from 1962-77.

Here are the other nine names not previously made public by any diocese or religious order (additional information on specific allegations can be found at

  • The Rev. Anselm Deehr, S.T. – founder of Our Lady of Fatima Center who worked in Cleveland from 1970-87 as a religious brother
  • The Rev. George T. Hovanec, Diocese of Cleveland (died in 1965)
  • The Rev. John A. Leahy, Diocese of Cleveland (died in 2005)
  • Br. James Walter Lent, S.S.S. – worked as elementary school teacher in Diocese of Cleveland (died in 1994)
  • The Rev. Daniel J. Mangen, C.P.P.S.
  • The Rev. Anthony J. Muzic, Diocese of Cleveland (died in 2010)
  • Daniel J. Nealon, Diocese of Cleveland (since left priesthood)
  • The Rev. Martin Van Trieste, S.T. (died in 2007)
  • The Rev. Jeffrey M. Weaver, Diocese of Cleveland

Of those nine, only Weaver remains an active priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, with his current status listed as “awaiting assignment.” relayed allegations of him grooming multiple teen boys years ago before having sex with them when they turned 18, but he was allowed to return to active ministry in 2012.

“This, too, is another story that needs information from the bishop,” Doyle stated. “Clevelanders have a right to know where he is, who’s monitoring him, what are the conditions under which he would minster, if at all.”

In response to today’s news conference, the Diocese of Cleveland issued the following statement:

“The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is steadfastly committed to the protection and safety of children, as demonstrated in its robust policies regarding background checks, its education and training, its commitment to reporting all allegations of child sexual abuse to civil authorities, and by the fact that no cleric in the Diocese of Cleveland against whom a substantiated allegation has been made is permitted to ever again serve in ministry. 

“The Diocese also makes public the names of any cleric who has been accused of child sexual abuse, regardless of when the alleged conduct took place or whether the accused is alive or deceased, provided the allegation is substantiated.

“This list does not include non-diocesan clergy (clerics serving other dioceses) or clerics who belong to a religious order, only clerics of the Diocese of Cleveland.

“For more comprehensive information on how the Diocese of Cleveland reports and compiles these lists and to view the current list, please visit our website.”

Many of the names mentioned by Doyle and Vercellotti were indeed members of religious orders who do not report directly to the Bishop of Cleveland. When asked about this by 3News, Doyle cited statistics showing that of the 161 American dioceses displaying names of accused clergy, 77% included religious order priests in addition to diocesan priests, while Cleveland is among the 23% that do not. More so, while the bishop is not the “direct supervisor” of these priests, he is often aware of their activities and must approve certain assignments within the diocese.

“It paints an incomplete picture,” Doyle said of the current list. She also noted that some of the clerics named by Cleveland appear on lists in other dioceses, even though the diocese says it does not do the same for priests outside its jurisdiction.

Doyle and Vercellotti are demanding the Diocese of Cleveland to update its standards for determining when an allegation of sexual abuse against a priest is credible, saying the current standards are too stringent and not in line with other dioceses. They plan to send a letter to Bishop Malesic himself, and also want Ohio to update its criminal and civil statutes of limitations to allow more time for such crimes to be brought to court.

“We cannot protect kids with secrecy and silence,” Vercellotti declared. “There’s no good that comes from harboring these types of secrets. These cases belong in courtrooms, they belong before a trial of fact and a jury, they belong in the public, because that’s how we protect kids.”

The other 39 names mentioned today — previously made public by other dioceses and religious orders — are as follows (information via

  • The Rev. Carmelo Melchior Baltazar – based in Boise, Idaho, but also worked in Cleveland (deceased)
  • Br. Jerome Binder, S.M. – based in Pittsburgh but also worked at schools in Cleveland (died in 2000)
  • The Rev. Wilfrid F. Bombardier, S.S.S. – ordained in Cleveland, based in Manchester, New Hampshire (died in 2000)
  • Br. Paul Botty, S.M. – based in Cleveland, worked at St. Joseph High School (died in 2007)
  • The Rev. Henry A. Brockman, S.J. – based in Cleveland, worked at Saint Ignatius High School (died in 1973)
  • The Rev. Robert C. Broome, S.J. – based in Cleveland, worked at Saint Ignatius High School (died in 2000)
  • The Rev. Ignatius M. Burrill, S.J. – based in Cleveland, worked at Saint Ignatius High School (died in 1987)
  • The Rev. Francis E. Canfield, S.J. – based in Toledo but also worked in Cleveland at at Saint Ignatius High School (died in 2023)
  • Br. Damien Chong, O.Carm – based in Los Angeles but also worked in Cleveland (died in 2014)
  • The Rev. John J. Cullinan, S.J. – based in La Crosse, Wisconsin, but also worked in Cleveland at at Saint Ignatius High School (died in 1974)
  • The Rev. Thomas J. Doyle, S.M. – based in Norwich, Connecticut (died in 2007)
  • The Rev. Roy A. Drake, S. J. – based in New York but also worked in Cleveland at John Carroll University (died in 2008)
  • Br. Edward J. Dury, S.M. – based in Cincinnati (died in 1974)
  • The Rev. Daniel Emerine, O.F.M. – based in Louisville, Kentucky, but also worked in Cleveland (died in 1986)
  • The Rev. John J. Finke, S.M. – based in Cincinnati but also worked in Cleveland (died in 1983)
  • The Rev. Thomas M. Gannon, S.J. – based in Cleveland, worked at Saint Ignatius High School (died in 2011)
  • The Rev. Gerald B. Garvey, S.J. – based in Cleveland, worked at Saint Ignatius High School (died in 1960)
  • Oscar Gumucio – based in Cleveland, worked at St. Patrick’s Parish and Lincoln Junior High School (left Jesuit priesthood, died in 2014)
  • The Rev. Richard Hennessy, S.S.S. – based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but also worked in Cleveland
  • Br. William C. Hildebrand, S.M. – based in Pittsburgh (died in 1979)
  • The Rev. William H. Hohman – based in Youngstown but also taught high school students in Cleveland (died in 1988)
  • Br. Walter A. Klick, S.M. – based in Cincinnati (died in 1979)
  • The Rev. Protase (Maximilian) Kuberek, O.F.M. – based in St. Louis, but also spent time at St. Stanislaus in Cleveland (died in 1959)
  • Br. Robert A. Lindemann, S.M. – based in New York (died in 1995)
  • Howard J. McDonough – based in Cleveland, worked at Walsh Jesuit High School (dismissed from Jesuit Order)
  • The Rev. John P. McManus, S.S. – ordained in Cleveland, based in Seattle (died in 1986)
  • Br. Francis P. Meder, S.M. – based in Pittsburgh (died in 1976)
  • The Rev. James Glenn Murray, S.J. – based in Baltimore but also worked in Cleveland
  • The Rev. Donald J. O’Shaughnessy, S.J. – based in Chicago but also worked in Cleveland (died in 2013)
  • The Rev. Thomas J. Powers – based in Cleveland; worked at Saint Ignatius High School, John Carroll University, and Walsh Jesuit High School (died in 2019)
  • The Rev. John Rebovich – based in Cleveland in Parma’s Byzantine Catholic eparchy (deceased)
  • Paul F. Rodgers – former Jesuit seminarian assigned to Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland (dismissed from Jesuits in 1982)
  • The Rev. Robert Ruglovsky – based in Cleveland as Byzantine Rite priest (died in 2006)
  • Br. Francis A. Russell, S.M. – based in Cincinnati (died in 1991)
  • The Rev. Jeffrey Salwach – based in Joliet, Illinois, but also worked in Cleveland (dismissed from Franciscan order, but remains a priest)
  • The Rev. Ildephonse (Edward) Skorup, O.F.M. – based in St. Louis, but also worked in Cleveland (died in 2020)
  • The Rev. Joseph P. Tedesco, S.M. – based in Cincinnati (died in 2016)
  • Stephen V. Varga – based in Gary, Indiana, but also worked in Cleveland (dismissed from priesthood, died in 2006)
  • The Rev. Gordon Patrick Wagoner – based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but also worked at St. John’s College of Cleveland (died in 2008) states:

Our Database of Publicly Accused does not state or imply that individuals facing allegations are guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims. The reports contained in the database are merely allegations. The U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.”