Catholic Diocese of Birmingham releases names of 6 priests accused of child sex abuse

WVTM 13 Digital
December 14, 2018

[with video]

The Catholic Diocese of Birmingham today released the names of priests accused of sexual abuse of minors.

Robert Wilford said one of the priests, Charles Cross, abused him as a teenager in Birmingham in the 1960s. "You don't forget about it. You never will. I don't really think about it in detail every day. There's not a day in my life that some thought doesn't pop up in my head," he said.

Wilford said he suffered from depression, alcoholism, and post traumatic stress disorder and came forward decades later. "I was just very irate and decided to go ahead and make it my mission to force Cross out of the priesthood, so that's why I came forward in 2002," he said.

Bishop Robert J. Baker shared the following statement in a release:

"Today I am providing information about accusations of clergy sexual abuse of minors. The credibility of the accusations is either the result of an admission by the former priest, substantial evidence that we have gathered, or an independent investigation that substantiated the claims.

"The priests named were ministering in this diocese when they committed these deplorable acts. What they did, not only to the victims themselves but their families and friends, is inexcusable. In so many ways it has injured the very foundation of our Church family. Although there is nothing that one can say to right these wrongs, please know that we have spent a great deal of time and effort to see that such situations will not happen again. It is with heartfelt sorrow that I ask forgiveness of all the victims of these terrible crimes and of their family members who suffered as well.

"I want to take this opportunity to let you know what our diocese has been doing these past years in order to protect those most vulnerable."

Baker said none of the clergy listed below are in service anywhere.


Charles V. Cross (Deceased)

  • Ordained in 1960 (Mobile-Birmingham); served from 1969 in the new Diocese of Birmingham; removed from ministry in 1985; forced to retire without priveleges in 2002

John "Jack" Ventura

  • Ordained in 1968 (Patterson, New Jersey); 1974 Incardinated in Diocese of Birmingham; removed from ministry after allegations received in 1985

Charles Bordenca (Deceased)

  • Ordained in 1955 (Mobile-Birmingham); served from 1969 in the new Diocese of Birmingham; removed from active ministry in this diocese in 1989

Kevin Cooke

  • Ordained in 1978; removed from ministry in 2002

Jonathan "John" Franklin (Deceased)

  • Ordained in 1956 (Louisiana); rRemoved from ministry: mid-1980s

Roger Lott (Deceased)

  • Ordained in 1954 (Mobile-Birmingham); removed from ministry in 1997

"We will not tolerate such sexual abuse. We condemn it," Bishop Baker said. "We will continue to remain vigilant. We invite those who wish to participate in any of our programs to contact us. Your help will be greatly appreciated. Finally, we will continue to pray for all those affected in any way. We pray that individuals will have the courage to come forward with their stories and seek help with the pain they may still be suffering. May God guide our efforts to protect all those committed to our care."

Baker said any suspected child abuse involving someone within the diocese is asked to contact Deacon Frank Slapikas at 205-252-3954 or general counsel at 205-776-7118.


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