BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Archbishop William E. Lori announced Wednesday that 23 names of deceased priests and brothers were added to an online list of clergy accused of child sexual abuse.
According to a statement, those named had been “previously and credibly accused.”
“Here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, there is absolutely zero tolerance for any bishop, priest, lay employee or volunteer credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor or the sexual harassment of an adult,” said Archbishop Lori. “My decision, in consultation with our Independent Review Board, to add these additional 23 names is the result of a further review of deceased members of the clergy who were accused after their deaths and who were previously reported to law enforcement. We are confident that we’ve implemented rigorous standards of accountability and transparency and we will continue applying those standards.”
The complete list is on the Archdiocese’s website and documents those accused over the past 80 years. With Wednesday’s addition of names, the list reaches 126 people.
The news comes as a revision to the Archdiocese’s previous policy of not publishing the names of priests accused for the first time after they died.
“We’ve heard from Catholics and others this desire to have everything out in the open. And just you know, tell us what you know. And this was really a response to that,” said Sean Caine, Baltimore Archdiocese.
This is a reversal of a decision in 2002 not to identify priests who were accused after death.
It was inspired by a massive Pennsylvania court case last year which ordered the church to release the names of 301 suspected predator priests.
Some Catholics said they believe the voluntary transparency in Baltimore is the start of a new chapter.
“I think it’s a good idea to be open as possible so that the people that were hurt or have suffered from that could come to the church and know the church wants to wrap their arms around them,” said Catholic Melissa Goodwin.
“I have confidence that the tabernacle there is a Jesus that’s going to take care of this, like he’s done for the last several thousand years,” said another Catholic, Jerry Pinkas.
The presence of the newly identified priests stretches from Frostburg to Dundalk, from Baltimore to D.C.- and the archdiocese knows there could be more victims.
“We hope that there is never another allegation. But we also are realistic that there’s a chance that somebody who may have been abused many years ago comes forward today, tomorrow, sometime in the future,” Caine said.
The statement said Archbishop Lori and the Archdiocese’s Independent Review Board worked together to ensure those added met the following criteria:
- “if the Archdiocese received an allegation of child sexual abuse from more than one victim;
- if a single allegation of child sexual abuse were substantiated through external information that corroborated that sexual abuse occurred; or
- if the name of the priest or brother were already published elsewhere in connection with an allegation of child sexual abuse.”
The Archdiocese said it’s not disclosing the names of any priests or brothers who’s allegation of abuse could not be substantiated or was ruled out, or when the allegation came from a third party and the alleged victim could not be reached.
The Archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection Hotline can be reached at 1-866-417-7469 and the number for the Archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection is 410-547-5599.