This past week the Diocese of Gallup disclosed a list of 30 new names of credibly accused priests. As usual, there is talk about the names being old and in many cases dead. Which raises the question of why weren’t these names disclosed earlier? Why were the names not on the original list that was disclosed back in 2003?
At the time of the 2003 disclosure Bishop Donald E. Pelotte claimed:
Of the 494 bishops, priests and permanent deacons that are known to have served in the Diocese of Gallup from 1950 to 2002, there were 8 known individuals who had credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors made against them.
He also pledged:
As much as all of us would like to put this behind us, the healing process and the development of policies and procedures to prevent it in the future require more attention. We have publicly committed ourselves not to return to “business as usual” but to make every effort to reform and move forward. I, as your bishop, commit myself and my staff to transparency and to the protection of all our children and youth.
So why didn’t they find these names earlier? It looks like the Dioceses filed for Bankruptcy in 2012. The January 14,2014 notice letter from Bishop Wall to parishioners spoke not only of overall debt , but of the claims of survivors:
a committee of those who were abused has been appointed as part of the Chapter II process and they will act in the Chapter 11 case on behalf of all those who were harmed in the Diocese.
Is the list really just the disclosure of past liabilities? As one of the survivors pointed out:
Despite the apparent openness, Joelle Casteix with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said, “This smells bad!”
Having advocated for more than a decade against priest abuse, Casteix, who lives in Southern California, said the open letter is more a calculated attempt to avoid further civil suits before the diocese bankruptcy case closed.
“If they released all of these names before the bar date shut, then victims of these priests — who are just now being released — might have felt more confident in coming forward.”
Every list is a step in the right direction. However, is this just another example of the Church being forced by the law to finally disclose information that they should have provided years ago? Are they just playing games to protect themselves and again hiding from the truth? Zero tolerance needs to mean something. The bankruptcy judge needs to be asked to look at these disclosures closely and to insure that all liabilities have been disclosed in time for those who have claims to exercise their rights. In fact, for true transparency the Church should be leading the charge to get this information out.
It is always interesting when church apologists talk about the greedy trial lawyers who are pushing the church on these cases. Each and every one of these dioceses’ bankruptcies really look like they are all about the money.
Abuse of children and the continued silence by the offenders needs to be prevented. If you suffered, saw, or suspected such events, it is important to know that there is help out there.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.