The Diocese of Steubenville Releases a List of Accused Priests
The Diocese of Steubenville publicly named 16 priests that have been removed from their duties due to “credible” allegations of sexual abuse.
Despite stressing that most of the allegations are “decades old,” the release of the list comes a day after a priest in the Diocese of Steubenville, Fr. Christopher Foxhaven, was arrested for the grooming and rape of a teenage girl. Notably, the list excludes the name of Fr. Sam Tiesi, a priest who operated within the Diocese of Steubenville and was a notorious abuser of young women while he served at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Given this omission, we fear that there may be others who were also left off the list for unknown reasons.
Like his colleague at the Diocese of Youngstown, Bishop Jeffrey Monforton clarified that a “credible” allegation is one “that, after a thorough investigation and review of available information, appears more likely true than not in the judgment of the Diocesan Review Board, and is accepted as credible by the bishop.” However, it is difficult to believe that church officials have an accurate view of what a “credible” allegation looks like, especially given that we have seen church officials deem accusations not credible only to be proven horribly wrong later.
The release of these names is only the first step towards making things right in the Diocese of Steubenville. If he truly believes his list is accurate, then Bishop Monforton should contact his local prosecuting attorney and the state attorney general to urge an independent investigation that will investigate diocesan records and do a full review of all personnel files and abuse records. Only independent law enforcement professionals can truly determine the extent of these crimes. As we have seen recently in places like the Diocese of Buffalo, we cannot count on church officials to release all records they have.
Second, Bishop Monforton should publicize this list permanently on the diocesan website and run it at least quarterly in every parish bulletin. It should include every single proven, admitted and credibly accused church employee: bishops, priests, seminarians, brothers, nuns and lay people, no matter who supervised or ordained them, and no matter where they originated. Most importantly, Bishop Monforton should also put by each name the date when he or his staff first learned of the allegation against that priest. If people are truly to trust in their church officials again, they should know who knew what, when they knew it, and what actions were taken based off that information.
(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)