Fall River Diocese Releases List of Clergy ‘Credibly Accused’ of Sexual Abuse of a Minor
FALL RIVER — The Diocese of Fall River has published a list of 75 clergy members that they say “have been credibly or publicly accused or sexual abuse of a minor,” with the Bishop apologizing for the abuse.
The list was published on the Diocese of Fall River website. According to a press release, more than 75 percent of the names have already been made public previously by “announcements from the Diocese of Fall River, media reports, or lists published by other dioceses, religious orders, third-party advocates, or civil authorities.”
“As I pray for a spirit of healing and reconciliation, I know that we cannot move on without an honest accounting of the past,” said Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha. “As your bishop, I am deeply and profoundly sorry for the abuse that was perpetrated by priests within this diocese and have recommitted myself to doing everything in my power to ensure this never happens again.”
The announcement also details the five-phase process the diocese underwent to review and investigate the claims, in order to develop the list. It involved going through 70 years’ worth of files, and having outside investigation groups – each run by former FBI officials – also conducting a review. Once the first four phases were completed, the Diocese shared all files and relevant information with The Edward Davis Company, run by former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, “to review the Diocese’s process for thoroughness, fairness, and reasonableness.”
“We believe that the diocese’s investigative and review process was thorough and balanced and was fair to those making the accusation as well as the accused,” Davis said. “The publishing of this list is an essential step as the diocese moves forward to promote accountability, transparency and healing.”
According to a press release, there have been 650 priests who have served as a Fall River Diocesan priest since the diocese was founded in 1904, and a total of 44 have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. The diocese says the other 31 people on the list “were either members of a religious order or belonged to another diocese.”
Among the facts compiled in the investigation, it was found that most of the allegations involve conduct that occurred from the 1960s to the 1980s, and that 28 of the 44 Fall River Diocesan priests credibly accused are now deceased.
The Diocese of Fall River points out that “there are currently no priests in ministry who have been credibly accused, in keeping with the Diocese of Fall River’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.” There are three priests from the diocese who are living that have been publicly accused, “but there has not yet been a determination under Canon (Church) or civil law regarding whether the allegations against them are credible. These priests are prohibited from engaging in public ministry while their cases are in process. They are afforded a presumption of innocence, consistent with the principles of the American justice system and Church law.”
The diocese also said that the list will be updated “should new information become available and if the publication results in other survivors coming forward.”
To view the list of names, click here.