The current move to unveil the lists statewide is unusual, said Dave Clohessy, executive director of the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“I don’t know of any other state where every diocese is being asked,” Clohessy said. “It’s happening more aggressively here.”
The Crookson Diocese hearing Wednesday involved one of the abuse victims of a now-dead priest, James Porter, who was convicted on multiple counts of child abuse. The victim, identified in court documents as Jane Doe 4, was abused as a teen. Now that Anderson is able to reopen her case, he asked that the diocese release its list.
“Under the new law, she can do something to protect other kids,” Anderson said. “That’s what she’s doing.”
He said he has used the strategy successfully in Delaware, Chicago, Portland, Ore., Davenport, Iowa, and California.
“We argued there is an immediate peril every day that the bishop and diocese conceal from the public the names of those deemed to be credibly accused sexual offenders,” Anderson said. “As long as we don’t know who they are, we don’t know how to protect the children.”
Polk County District Judge Tamara Yon will decide the case later.
The Diocese of Tucson, Ariz., was first to release its list of alleged sex abusers, in 2002, McKiernan said. Over the years, dioceses in Baltimore, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee and beyond have done the same.
But the lists differ in their scope, typically in reaction to court settlements, he said. The Los Angeles list includes a summary of allegations against each priest. Baltimore’s list includes photographs. The Davenport Diocese is required to include a link on its home page to the list. In Iowa, Dubuque and Davenport are required to update their lists.
Sometimes lists are posted online and then disappear.
That was the case with St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville. In the spring of 2011, the abbey became the first religious order in Minnesota to publicly release a list of monks who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. Digital publication of the list was part of a settlement of clergy abuse lawsuits.
But the list disappeared from the abbey’s website in the summer of 2012, said Pat Marker, an advocate for victims who chronicles clergy sexual abuse at St. John’s.
Brother Aelred Senna, a spokesman for the abbey, did not return phone calls Wednesday seeking an explanation. The list’s publication had been hailed as a move toward openness after decades of sexual abuse of prep-school students and others by priests and monks at the abbey.
Advocates for the abused disagree with the argument that such lists should be kept confidential to protect innocent clergy.
”It’s hard to repair an injured reputation,” Clohessy said. “It’s infinitely harder to repair a boy or girl’s shattered psyche.”