Second Ohio Diocese Plans to Release List of Abusive Priests, Cleveland Remains Quiet
By BJ Colangelo
September 26, 2018
According to reports from The Associated Press, a second Ohio Roman Catholic Diocese is planning to release a list of priests who have been removed from parishes due to allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct over the years. The list is due out sometime before the end of October.
The Ohio diocese in question is located in Steubenville, the smallest diocese in the state, with only 34,000 members. Its list will contain names and crimes of priests, possibly dating as far back as 1944. A spokesperson told the AP they expect 12 to 20 names to appear on the list.
Bishop Jeffrey Monforton wants the list to be as transparent and accountable as possible. As Orsatti said to the Associated Press, "[Monforton] would welcome any investigation like the one in Pennsylvania." This list release follows suit with the diocese in Youngstown, that announced earlier this month it'd also be releasing a comprehensive report. The Youngstown diocese broke off from the Cleveland diocese in 1943.
The 2002 approval of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops implemented a zero-tolerance policy for crimes against children in response to The Boston Globe's devastating reveal of decades of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of priests.
The policy requires dioceses to alert authorities when learning of abuse allegations, conduct their own investigations, and remove accused priests from their duties during any investigations.
As for the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio's largest with almost 700,000 members, a spokesman told AP it has provided Cuyahoga County prosecutors any and all relevant files from an extensive grand jury investigation similar to Pennsylvania's in 2002.
In 2002, the Cleveland diocese posted a list of 22 priests who had been accused of child sex abuse, and Diocesan spokesman Jim Armstrong said some of the allegations date back decades. However, prosecutors in Cleveland never produced a report similar to the grand jury's findings in Pennsylvania.
A year later, a 2003 court decision denied a Cleveland television station's request to obtain records presented to the grand jury. At that time, Cuyahoga County Judge Brian Corrigan wrote that prosecutors had identified more than 1,000 victims of sexual abuse and 496 possible offenders, which included 143 priests. Sixty-four of those priests, at the time, were still living in the Cleveland area, he said.
Back in 2010, we reported on the Cleveland diocese as being one of the most secretive dioceses in the United States. “I believe Bishop Lennon is hiding one of the biggest lists of unregistered sexual offenders in the state,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-founder of Bishop Accountability. “Cleveland has the biggest gap between the number of priests accused and the number of priests that are public. Naming them publicly is the most effective way to keep children safe.”
It's concerning that eight years later, Youngstown and Steubenville are quick to release names of abusers, but Cleveland still remains relatively mum on the topic.