Bishop Anthony B. Taylor announced Feb. 8 that Kinsale Management Consulting has completed its review of clergy files. This is a follow-up to the diocese’s internal review that was announced Sept. 10.
On Sept. 10 of last year I wrote you about the steps we are taking to address the clergy sexual abuse crisis in Arkansas. I disclosed the names of 12 priests and former priests against whom credible allegations had been received in the last 70 years. I also announced that an independent review of our clergy files would be undertaken by Kinsale Management Consulting. On Oct. 23 I provided an update, stating that since Sept. 10 the diocese had received reports of additional allegations of clergy sexual abuse from the public -- most of which were against priests already listed; none of which were against priests who are currently in active ministry in Arkansas; and all of which were regarding events that would have occurred prior to 2002.
Although it is difficult or impossible to investigate, such allegations after a priest has already died, the diocese investigated all the new allegations to the extent possible or referred them over to the appropriate civil authorities or religious orders. And all new allegations were also reviewed by Kinsale, who had access to all files contained in the diocesan archives, all confidential files, and all active working files.
We have also contacted several religious orders whose clergy may have served in our diocese at some point in the past and obtained additional information from some of them. Several orders are currently in the process of conducting their own external review (including Subiaco Abbey), with the goal of publishing their own lists sometime in the future. When they or other dioceses publish or update their own lists, we will update ours as well.
Kinsale’s exhaustive review of over 1,350 files on clergy and religious who have served here has now been completed. They made no dramatic discoveries, but their efforts confirmed that we have a clear understanding of the scope of incidents of clergy sexual abuse committed in the past. The results of Kinsale’s review as well as the diocese’s ongoing file review and investigations were all brought before the Diocesan Review Board -- a group of majority lay people who are not employed by the diocese and who meet regularly to advise me on various matters, including the credibility or lack thereof of such allegations against clergy.
Sadly, as a result of this entire process, we must add the name of one additional priest and one religious brother against whom allegations of abusing minors in Arkansas can be considered credible at this time.
There is also a report on how previous bishops handled allegations where is available here and on our diocesan website.
- Walter Rajmund: Died 1990. Served in Arkansas 1956-1990. Two known victims.
- Bill Wright, GHM: Died 2011. Served at Holy Cross Church in Crossett, Arkansas, 1982-1986.
Thomas Benkhe, OCD
Gabriel Hentrich, OCD
Albert Holmes, GHM
Bede Mitchell, OSB
Patrick J. L. Nicholson
Vance Thorne, SVD
Although to date the diocese has not paid any money to settle legal claims related to the priests included in our Clergy Disclosure List, since 2002 the diocese has spent approximately $205,000 out of the diocesan insurance fund providing counseling and other assistance to persons alleging child sexual abuse by a priest, even including some cases in which the allegations were unverifiable but where the person was nevertheless in obvious need of help. We have tried to be as generous as possible in providing this help, always giving the person the benefit of the doubt.
As I said at the end of my previous letters, I once again ask for your prayers for all the victims of sexual abuse from whatever source, but in particular those who have been abused by a priest, deacon or other representative of the Church. I would like to renew my call for any others who have been abused or know someone who has been abused to come forward by first contacting the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline (800-482-5964). And then please call our diocesan contacts: Deacon Matthew Glover, chancellor for canonical affairs (501-664-0340, ext. 361) or our victims assistance coordinator (501-664-0340, ext. 425). I am deeply concerned to see to it that we offer whatever assistance we can provide.
Let us continue to 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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