Diocese of Youngstown Clears Priest, SNAP Calls for Clarification
A priest who had previously been determined to have “credible” allegations of abuse against him has suddenly removed from the diocesan list following a new investigation. We call on Catholic officials to be clear and direct in sharing the information with the public that has resulted in this change.
Fr. William Smaltz was included on the initial list of priests accused of abuse released by the Diocese of Youngstown in 2018. Despite that listing, diocesan leaders now claim that they have determined those allegations are no longer "credible," but have released precious little information to the public.
There are many unanswered questions about this situation, chief among them being who was in charge of this new investigation? Similarly, what facts have emerged that made previously “credible” claims suddenly unsubstantiated? Catholic officials in Youngstown are saying little about this case which does a disservice to parishioners, parents, and the public.
This is a clear example of why all investigations into crimes like sexual abuse must be done by secular, professional law enforcement officials. We cannot know which investigation was botched by diocesan leaders in Youngstown, but is clear that something has gone wrong. Bishop George Murray should address this situation publicly, explaining how the first allegations were investigated and by whom and what information came to light to cast doubt on their earlier findings. Absent this transparency, it is hard to trust in the decisions made by Catholic officials in Youngstown.
We hope this story will encourage others who may have been abused or witnessed abuse to come forward, make a report to local law enforcement, and start healing.
(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)