The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, is publishing a list of 34 priests and 17 lay people against whom credible accusations of sexual abuse or other inappropriate behavior have been leveled.
It's the first time the diocese has revealed the names of those accused of abuse.
Bishop Lawrence Persico began the news conference by addressing victims of abuse.
"I would like to express my sincere sorrow and apologies for the sexual abuse that has occurred within the church, particularly here, within the Diocese of Erie," he said, noting that he has spoken with some victims.
"It is appalling to learn what they went through," he said. "Abuse is traumatic enough but it is earth-shattering when it is perpetrated by someone in a position of trust."
The move comes as a grand jury run by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office investigates how the Erie diocese, the Diocese of Harrisburg and four others in Pennsylvania have handled misconduct allegations against priests.
"We don't know when the grand jury report will be forthcoming," Persico said, "but I am sure it will be a sobering moment for all of us.
The diocese began the process of examining its past in 2016, which was the year that a grand jury report into child sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown was made public. At that time, the diocese invited the district attorney to view its records.
In September 2016, that investigation was halted when the records of the Erie diocese and five others were subpoenaed by the state Attorney General, said Bishop Lawrence Persico.
Since then, Persico said, the diocese has reviewed all the files it could find that had anything to do with inappropriate behavior by anyone associated with the diocese, going back about 70 years. It has shared all it found with the attorney general, he said.
The diocese Friday also unveiled its updated policy for protecting children and youth, along with the list of accused - a list that is unlike any released by other diocese in that it also includes lay people credibly accused of inappropriate behavior or abuse.
Twenty of the priests and two of they lay people on the Erie list are deceased. The list includes allegations dating as far back as 1944, Persico said.
The release comes just weeks after the diocese in Buffalo, New York, put out a similar list.
Persico said he is sure that there will be debate over the wisdom of releasing the names, but said the diocese first goal was the protection of children.
"It is not possible for us to monitor all the people on the list," he said. "This is an important step in helping the public become aware of info that is important for the community's well-being."
He said the diocese's updated policy and the names, would be offered on a website: www.eriercd.org/policyupdate.htm.
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania publishes list of priests and lay people accused of sexual abuse
As reported by Teresa Bonner of PennLive.com, April 6, 2018 (links in original):