Fall River diocese’s list of accused priests still unfinished

By Eli Sherman And Ted Nesi
July 1, 2019

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River is continuing to conduct an internal review into sexual abuse allegations against its priests and clergymen, but is still not setting a date for when a list of credible accusations will be released.

Fall River Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha announced in January he had hired William Gavin, a former FBI assistant director, as an independent consultant to review all past claims of sexual abuse against Fall River clergy. Gavin’s hiring followed a reorganization of personnel files last fall.

The bishop said at the time he expected the review would be done “in the spring.” However, diocesan spokesperson John Kearns said Monday the review wasn’t finished yet and he didn’t know when it would be.

“I don’t want to speculate at this point,” Kearns told WPRI 12. “When the review is finished, we will be publishing the list.”, a website that tracks the Catholic abuse crisis nationwide, lists 31 members of the Fall River diocese who have faced some past accusation of sexual abuse. The diocese includes Bristol County, Cape Cod and the Islands, as well as Marion, Mattapoisett and Wareham.

In a January letter to the region’s Catholics, de Cunha indicated he expected the list would reveal relatively few unknown abuse cases.

“While most of these names have already been reported in the media, the publication of a list is necessary for greater transparency on our part in response to clerical sexual abuse,” he wrote. “I wish that this information could be made available sooner; yet it takes time and diligence to compile a list that is accurate and complete.”

Fall River’s diocesan leaders also established an Office of Safe Environment a year ago, led by retired law enforcement officers, to oversee child protection in the diocese.

News of Fall River’s review comes the same day the Diocese of Providence released its own list of 50 priests and other clergymen – alive and dead – it said have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors since 1950.

Providence and Fall River join a growing number of dioceses across the country that are in the process of releasing lists of accused priests. Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin said the decision to release the list in Rhode Island was to show the Catholic hierarchy has nothing to hide.



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