Sacramento Catholic Diocese Slow to Tell of Accused Priest, Group Charges

By Jennifer Garza
Sacramento Bee
October 24, 2011

A victims' rights group is criticizing the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento today, claiming church officials quietly suspended a priest accused of sexual abuse earlier this month and have not done enough to notify potential victims.

Leaders of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said church officials removed the Rev. William Feeser from active ministry but "have not been open about it," said Chico Chavez of SNAP.

"They promised to be more transparent," said Chavez. "Why haven't they reached out to other potential victims?"

The victims' rights group plans to hold a news conference this afternoon at the Sacramento Pastoral Center.

Diocesan leaders removed Feeser, 63, from ministry after a Southern California woman accused him of sexually molesting her at Our Lady of Assumption church in Carmichael when she was a minor more than three decades ago.

Church officials announced the priest's suspension at Immaculate Conception Parish in Sacramento soon after the allegation was made. Feeser is retired for health reasons and previously lived at the parish. He has since moved.

"We are in the process of investigating the allegation," said diocesan spokesman Kevin Eckery. He said the church responded quickly to the accusation and is taking it seriously.

"If something turns up, then of course, we will then go everywhere he served and alert people," said Eckery. He added that the church wants to be fair to both the victim and the priest. This is the first allegation against the Feeser.

Feeser has served at various parishes in the Sacramento diocese since 1977: Our Lady of Assumption in Carmichael, St James in Davis, St. Joseph's in Sacramento, St. Roberts in Sacramento, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sacramento and at All Hallows Parish in Sacramento. He was a teacher at Jesuit High School in Fair Oaks as well as St. Francis High School in Sacramento. He also worked at the University of California Davis Medical Center.

Chavez and other victim advocates said church leaders should have been more aggressive in notifying parishioners at all the churches where Feeser has served.

They said church officials should make both verbal and written announcements about Feeser, doing everything they can to reach out to potential victims. "I'd like to see inserts at every church where he has worked," Chavez said. "There's no reason to wait."



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