Fargo Diocese releases list of 31 church officials accused of sexually abusing children

By April Baumgarten
Fargo Forum via Grand Forks Herald
January 02, 2020

The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of 31 clergy and religious members who have been accused of sexually abusing children.

The list, which only includes allegations the diocese believes are credible, was sent to news media Thursday, Jan. 2. It comes after the diocese reviewed its files dating back to 1950. It includes clergy members — priests, deacons and bishops — as well as other non-ordained religious figures.

“It is my hope that this release of names will open the way to a purification of our Church, especially in our own diocese,” Bishop John Folda said in a statement. “We all know the experience of grace that comes with the confession of sins, and I pray that our diocese will experience a similar outpouring of grace through acknowledgement of these sinful acts by those in positions of authority.”

Over the years, many dioceses around the country have released similar lists. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead has previously pressed the Fargo Diocese on if and when it would release its own list. The Diocese of Bismarck also released its list of 22 clergy members Tuesday.

The Fargo Diocese took months to review its files, and this is the first time it has released a list of clergy members and religious figures who have faced substantiated claims.

"A substantiated allegation is one for which sufficient corroborating evidence establishes reasonable grounds to believe that the alleged abuse in fact occurred," the diocese said in a handout sent to media. "Substantiated is not equivalent to conviction in a court of law."

The list does not include clergy members under investigation. "The list will be updated if any other clergy or religious (officials) have substantiated claims after an investigation," diocese spokesman Paul Braun said.


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