The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. Releases a List of 28 Credibly Accused Priests, Yet the List is Incomplete
Today, the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. released the names of 28 priests that have been credibly accused of abuse from 1948 onward.
It cannot be overlooked that this announcement comes immediately on the heels of the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, almost as if the announcement were meant to distract from the fact that the Archdiocese’s leader had just resigned his position due to his role in sexual abuse cover-ups.
It also must be pointed out that the very list released today by the Archdiocese is incomplete. For example, it omits the name of Fr. William Wert, a priest who was first charged in 1997 for assaulting a 14-year-old boy and today is serving life in prison. The list also leaves off Fr. Garrett Orr, another priest who was convicted of sexual abuse and made to register as a sex offender in 2011. Similarly, Fr. Matthew Miles himself admitted in a March 2008 deposition that he had molested boys while working in Washington D.C. Given such easily found omissions, the integrity of the entire list is called into question.
This is precisely why we believe the only way to get to the truth of these scandals is for attorneys general in Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C to begin an independent investigation, one that comes with subpoena power and the ability to compel testimony under oath. As seen recently in the Diocese of Buffalo, we cannot count on church officials to release all records that they have. On that same point, it is worth noting that the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report released in August contained a list of 99 priests from the Diocese of Pittsburgh alone. As the Diocese of Pittsburgh is roughly half the size of the Archdiocese of Washington (according to www.catholic-hierarchy.org), we find it difficult to believe that this list of 28 priests is fully comprehensive.
Another point of contention is the use of the term “credible accusations.” We have seen many cases where cases thought to not be credible by church officials ultimately were deemed credible by independent law enforcement officials. This very situation has occurred as recently as last week in the Diocese of San Diego. The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. claims that there have been “no credible claims” in the past twenty years. In our opinion, this claim should be independently verified by law enforcement.
As it is, today’s disclosure appears to be a hastily assembled PR stunt, not a comprehensive effort to inform parishioners and citizens in Washington D.C. about the extent of the scandal there. Because of this, we call on the Archdiocese to immediately release the names of every priest, whether living or dead, religious order or diocesan, along with accused seminarians, bishops, nuns, brothers and lay employees. These lists often lead to new survivors realizing they are not alone and coming forward to share their own experiences. We also urge anyone who may have been hurt in the Archdiocese to make a report to law enforcement officials, not the Archdiocese.
CONTACT: Becky Ianni, SNAP Treasurer, Local DC SNAP leader ([email protected], (703) 801-6044), David Lorenz, SNAP Maryland leader ([email protected], 301-906-9161) Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Secretary (925-708-6175, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)