SNAP Applauds Release of Diocese of Fresno CA List of Accused Clerics, But Believes Important Information Is Missing
After years of refusal, Catholic officials in Fresno have finally followed the lead of nearly 160 other dioceses around the country and released a list of clerics known to have abused children. While we applaud this effort, we believe that the list needs improvement.
We do appreciate that Church leaders in Fresno went a step further than many of their counterparts and chose to list from the outset religious order priests and clergy who spent time in the Diocese but abused elsewhere. However, we still find that the Fresno list is short on names and details.
Diocesan officials have included the names of 66 clergy and brothers as "credibly accused" of abuse. However, by our count there are over 80 men that could have been named.
The list should also include photographs of these men, where and when each incident of abuse occurred, when the Diocese learned of the abuse, and what it did upon discovering those crimes.
One notable name that is not included on the Fresno list is Bishop Tod Brown. The Bishop was accused of abusing a boy in Bakersfield in 1965. This omission makes us wonder if any other powerful clerics were also given a pass.
In addition, abusive nuns, lay employees, and lay volunteers are missing from the list. Every diocese that has been investigated by secular authorities has uncovered abusers in those categories. In New York, a state like California where a "window of justice" has been opened, about 25% of Catholic abuse lawsuits involve non-clerics.
The Attorney General of California is currently taking reports from those abused in all twelve dioceses in the state. We call on that law enforcement agency to review the Fresno list and to compare it to its records.
Despite these shortcomings, the current list helps advocates, parishioners and the public piece together a better mosaic of abuse in the Diocese of Fresno. This release will not only help survivors heal, it may also help to protect today's children.
CONTACT: Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578), Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417)
(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)