Discrepancy in Abuse Lists Is Explained

By Gregg M. Miliote
The Herald News [Fall River MA]
March 10, 2004

FALL RIVER -- The Diocese of Fall River on Tuesday issued a broader explanation regarding the nine-person discrepancy between the list of 23 priests alleged to have molested children given to the District Attorney's Office in late 2002 and its own recent report stating 32 priests in the diocese were accused of sexual misconduct.

Late last month, the diocese released its "A Time to Heal" report documenting 216 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by 32 priests over the past 50 years.

On Monday, Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh questioned why he wasn't given all 32 names in September 2002, especially since former Bishop Sean P. O'Malley assured him that the list was complete.

Upon learning of the new 32-priest list, Walsh, frustrated over the discrepancy, wrote a letter to Bishop George W. Coleman asking for answers.

Although diocesan officials had little to say Monday afternoon, the diocese did issue a lengthier statement Tuesday attempting to explain the nine-priest difference in the two lists.

In the diocese's statement, officials said the names of James Porter and Alexander Delgado were left out of the list given to Walsh 18 months ago, since "both of whom, having been charged and tried in Bristol County courts, were known to the District Attorney's Office," the statement reads.

The remaining names, the diocese says, were provided to Walsh's office since 2002 or had been given to the Barnstable County District Attorney's Office. The diocese's statement also said one reason for the discrepany was "deceased priests" although two deceased priests were listed on the original report.

"In other words, additional names were learned of since that initial list Mr. Walsh released," said diocesan spokesman John Kearns. "Those new names were reported to the district attorney and were included in our new list of 32 priests. Some of the names were only given to the Barnstable County District Attorney's Office since the incidents took place in that county."

Kearns said Walsh would probably not have heard of the names given to Barnstable County officials, since the allegations did not occur within Walsh's jurisdiction in Bristol County.

"Together, these names total 32 as was submitted to the John Jay study and reported in 'A Time to Heal,' " the statement concluded.

Since the diocese's statement was not received until after 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Walsh and other officials from his office could not be reached for comment.

But during an exclusive interview with Walsh Monday, he did not say he had received any further priests' names since Sept. 2002 and said he had believed that list was final.

Additionally, in his letter to Bishop Coleman, Walsh makes no mention of receiving any additional information since obtaining the list of 23 priests 18 months ago.

"This (discrepancy) perplexes me," Walsh wrote in his letter to Bishop Coleman about the apparent misinformation. "In our request for any and all information concerning clergy abuse, we hoped that we would receive everything. Indeed assurances were made by Bishop O'Malley and yourself in news reports that you had fully complied with our request."

Upon receiving what he believed to be the entire list of priest accused of sexual molestation, Walsh released 21 of the 23 names to the media since even the media knew of Porter and Delgado, while also announcing the indictment of one on the list, the Rev. Donald Bowen.

Walsh, at the time, said although his office requested the names numerous times, it wasn't until he threatened O'Malley with a grand jury subpoena that he received the list of names.


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