Advocates decry diocese’s consideration of accusers’ reputations as ‘sickening’

Victim advocates say the fact that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus considers an accuser’s reputation when determining the credibility of sexual-abuse allegations is “atrocious” and comes across as victim blaming.

“That’s sickening ... Who do they think they are?” asked Judy Jones, Midwest regional director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “So many victims, they’re struggling, they’re going through so many things.”

The Columbus Diocese said it included the accuser’s reputation as one of about eight factors when creating a list released Friday of 34 clergy members who had been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children “because reputation for truthfulness is often considered in evaluating any claim.”

“No one factor is determinative,” the diocese said in a letter on its website attached to the list.

On Tuesday, the diocese added the names of two additional priests — Monsignor Robert A. Brown, who was on the Diocese of Steubenville’s list and is accused of abuse outside the Columbus diocese, and the Rev. John J. Ryan, who was accused after his death and after the list was released Friday — to the list. Both are deceased.

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