Odd Mix-up on Archdiocese of New Orleans List of Accused Priests Illustrates the Need for Secular Investigations

An odd mix-up of identities on the list of credibly accused priests released by church officials in New Orleans is the latest example of the need for outside, secular investigations into allegations of abuse levied against clerics. It is clear that church officials themselves are incapable of accurately relaying details to parishioners and the public.

This latest example of the lack of care and attention paid by church officials to cases of clergy abuse comes from the Archdiocese of New Orleans. On their list of abusive priests, church officials initially listed Fr. Alfred Sokol on their list of accused, however just this week they quietly changed the name on their list to Fr. Joseph Sokol instead. Yet rather than notify the public and be transparent, it took questions from local media for the Archdiocese of New Orleans to acknowledge the change publicly.

But what makes the situation so odd is not just that the name was changed, but so too were the details of the abuse. According to NOLA.com, “at the same time, the ‘estimated timeframe of abuse’ was pushed back from the 1960s and 1970s to the 1940s, and the ‘allegation received’ date switched from 2006 to 2010.”

It is one thing if church officials listed an incorrect first name on their list, but quite another when the entire details of the allegations were changed. To make these changes quietly and with no public notice is especially concerning. Archbishop Gregory Aymond should be transparent with the public and parishioners about this change and should explain in detail how the archdiocese was able to get so many things wrong in this situation.

This is yet another clear-cut example of church officials failing to properly investigate themselves and be accountable to the public. Especially in an archdiocese that has been embroiled in scandal over the way its list was created, church officials should have taken more care. Instead, it appears that the facts simply aren’t a priority for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

We hope that secular officials like DA Leon Cannizzarro and AG Jeff Landry will open an independent investigation into clergy abuse in New Orleans immediately. Parishioners and the public need transparency to keep their communities safe, and what the Archdiocese of New Orleans is providing can only be described as opaque.

CONTACT: Kevin Bourgeois, SNAP New Orleans (neworleans@snapnetwork.org, 504-376-5445), Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)

(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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