A complete list of clergy who have had assignments in Arkansas and against whom there are credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor was released by the Diocese of Little Rock Sept. 10.
This list, gathered through an internal review, contains the name of one former priest who was previously identified and 11 former priests who have not been identified before this week.
In a statement Bishop Anthony B. Taylor expressed concern for anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon or anyone representing the Church. He said the Church needs to be “a safe place where those who have been abused in the past can find understanding, healing and hope,” and he commits to offering whatever assistance the Diocese of Little Rock can provide.
The complete statement follows:
“In the wake of the recent scandals in the Church, I have decided to provide an accounting of cases here in Arkansas and how these allegations have been handled locally -- because it is simply the right thing to do. This list is being published in the interest of transparency and to bring the truth into the light. It is my hope that these disclosures might bring healing to the victims and their families and encourage as-yet unknown victims to come forward.
“In my own name and in the name of the Church, I would like to apologize to all victims for the abuse you have suffered and for the way that Church leadership has sometimes failed you in the past. I am committed to doing everything in my power to ensure that this never happens again.
“The diocese is continuing to examine its files and conduct additional investigations. We have also reached out to the attorney general, and we plan to cooperate fully with any investigation that she might request. So that we will know going forward that all clergy abuse cases have been identified and objectively reviewed, I have also arranged for an independent review of all the clergy personnel files and other relevant files by Kinsale Management Consulting, an independent investigative firm that specializes in this kind of work. This review will also examine how the bishops and other religious superiors at the time handled any allegations of sexual abuse that they received. It is my hope that this independent review will be completed and the findings ready to be shared with the public in December.
“As we consider this list of names and experience the shock of knowing that these priests preyed on so many victims, we need also to honor the courage of those who have come forward to share the most painful experiences of their entire life. My heart goes out to all who carry deep wounds of this sort. It often takes years for victims of trauma to come to terms with the abuse they have suffered and ask for help. It takes much courage to make this admission and it takes trust. And trust is something that gets twisted and manipulated by the abuser, as well as by the institutions that helped protect the abuser. So stepping forward is that much more difficult and will not occur until the victim feels safe and is confident that he or she will be heard. And that is the task before the Church today. Safe environment means not only a place where no one will be abused going forward, it also means creating a safe place where those who have been abused in the past can find understanding, healing and hope.
“The following list is the product of our own initial internal review of clergy personnel files as well as consultation with the Diocesan Review Board. Despite our best efforts, we know there may be some inaccuracies at this time. This list will be posted on our website (dolr.org/clergy-disclosure-list) along with additional information regarding the cleric, and it will be updated upon the conclusion of Kinsale Management Consulting’s independent investigation of our files.
Priests against whom credible allegations have been substantiated, either through their own admission or proven by means of a thorough investigation by the Diocese of Little Rock. None of these men have been in active ministry since the implementation of our safe environment policies in 2002. We are offering or have offered assistance to their known victims.
Priests about whom unsubstantiated though credible allegations of abuse of a minor have been received. These may be unsubstantiated because the accused was deceased at the time that the allegation was made, or because there is not enough information on file to substantiate the allegation —but, nonetheless, the diocese considers the allegations to be credible and is offering or has offered assistance to their known victims.
As context for what we currently know: Over the course of the last 70 years, approximately 700 priests have served for varying lengths of time in Arkansas. Of those, 12 have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of minors, and 9 of those abused minors while serving in Arkansas. The vast majority of these cases appear to have involved fondling, but a few case involved more than that. While it is no excuse, it is important for our faithful to know that none of these offenses occurred later than the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002. I should add that during these last 70 years there have been other priests who have left ministry for personal reasons or have been dismissed from ministry for reasons having nothing to do with the abuse of minors -- for instance, misconduct with adults -- and should not be treated as such. Moreover, over the course of these years we have investigated complaints of other imprudent acts which, at least based on what we currently know, did not rise to the level of sexual abuse.
“If you or anyone you know has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, or other representative of the Church, know that we want you to come forward, and we want to help. Please contact the civil authorities first by calling the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline (800-482-5964). And then please call or email our diocesan contacts: Deacon Matthew Glover, chancellor for canonical affairs (501-664-0340, ext. 361; ) or Drs. George or Sherry Simon, victims assistance coordinators (501-664-0340, ext. 425). This reporting information is also on our website and posted at all of our parishes and schools. I am deeply concerned to see to it that we offer whatever assistance we can provide.
“Let us all pray for one another during these most trying times in our Church. But let us pray most especially for the victims and their families -- they are the ones who are hurting the most.”
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