Diocese of Burlington Releases Names of 40 Abusive Priests

The Diocese of Burlington, VT has released the names of proven, admitted and publicly accused child molesting clerics today. This is a long overdue step towards transparency, and there is still more work to do.

With this move, church officials in Vermont are taking a belated step towards transparency and healing. Releasing these names publicly is crucial not only for the safety of children and healing of survivors, but also to encourage victims who may be suffering in silence to come forward and to deter future clergy sex crimes and cover-ups. 

Still, the fact remains that this is a long-overdue move prompted by pressure from media, parishioners and the public that Bishop Christopher Coyne should have taken immediately upon arriving in Burlington four years ago.

In his list Bishop Coyne took the unusual step to include the name of a priest who abused outside of Vermont but was nevertheless connected to the diocese. Unfortunately, he also declined to include the names of at least five credibly accused child molesting clerics who were, according to church records and mainstream media accounts, in Vermont. These are clerics that SNAP publicly revealed earlier this month: Msgr. Daniel Dougherty, Fr. Charles J. Charron, Fr. Paul A. Pinard, Fr. Mark Haight and Fr. Leo AIlyson. Bishop Coyne should immediately update his list to add these men.

Another thing that we believe is missing from this list is what the immediate response by Vermont church officials was when they received first these allegations. Were the claims investigated internally? Were the allegations turned over to police? Were priests moved to a different parish in response? The answers to these questions will be critical to fully understanding not only the scope of the crisis, but what changes must be made in order to prevent future cover-ups and ensure the safety of children.

Now that this list has been released, if Bishop Coyne wants to show his message of transparency and openness is sincere, he should ask for an independent investigation from Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan into the diocese’s handling of sex crimes and cover-ups. Such an investigation would be the only way to determine who knew what, when they knew it, and what they chose to do with that information.

We strongly encourage any survivors who were abused by one of the priests named today or any other church official, nun, deacon to contact local law enforcement to make a report and find independent sources of help and support.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 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)


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