Diocese of Sioux City Releases Names, SNAP Responds
It is always helpful for survivors when these lists are posted, especially for those who may be suffering in silence. Seeing that they are not alone helps victims heal, and could also compel others who were abused – whether by the same person or in the same place – to come forward. And often, dioceses will state that they are releasing these lists to assist with survivors in their healing and to help warn the public about these clerics. We are always supportive of those goals and are grateful for this first step towards transparency taken by the Diocese of Sioux City today.
What ends up being problematic is when lists are released that are incomplete or carefully curated and leave off the names of "extern" priests, nuns, deacons, bishops, or other church staff. Sometimes, names are left off because they do not meet the diocese’s ever-changing and nebulous definition of “credible.” And this point about credibility is the focus given the release from Sioux City today.
Bishop R. Walker Nickless said that the allegations on his list are all from the years between 1948 and 1995 and that all allegations beyond 1995 were not deemed "credible." We find it hard to believe that every allegation brought forth in the past two and a half decades are false, so we would like Bishop Nickless to expound further on what his definition of credible is, how many allegations have been made since 1995, and who was responsible for determining their credibility? Especially given the diocese's history of concealing allegations (as it did with Fr. Jerome Coyle), it is hard to believe this statement today.
This is why, while we support church officials releasing these lists on their own, we always prefer independent investigations by law enforcement in order to see full transparency and truth revealed. Only trained law enforcement officials will be able to truly tell us the depth of the problem in a given area, as well as who the abusers were and what actions were taken when their abuse was revealed. To date, 17 states have opened investigations and we are anxious for that 17 to become 50.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (email@example.com, 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)