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Victim advocates seek more data on accused clergy

  • Article by: AMY FORLITI
  • Associated Press
  • December 6, 2013 - 5:30 PM

MINNEAPOLIS — Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by clergy said Friday they will continue to push for more information about priests who have been accused of molesting children, and they hope the recent disclosure of a list of accused priests in the Twin Cities archdiocese will lead to similar ones being produced around the state.

The publication of 34 names of priests accused of sexually abusing minors has already led to more victims coming forward, including some who saw their abuser's name and others who questioned why their alleged abuser wasn't on the list. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released the list Thursday after a court order.

"When I look at this list that's out there, to me, it should be just the beginning," said Bob Schwiderski, Minnesota director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "People of Minnesota deserve to know all the names."

More names are expected to come out soon. The Diocese of Winona has said it will reveal information about 13 credibly accused priests by a court-ordered deadline of Dec. 17. The judge also gave the archdiocese and the Diocese of Winona until Jan. 6 to disclose information about additional priests accused of molesting kids.

Archbishop John Nienstedt has said the disclosures in his archdiocese are not meant to be final, and a review of files is ongoing. Going forward, he said, any substantiated claims will be disclosed on the archdiocese's website.

The lists were compiled in 2004 as part of a national study to examine the scope of clergy sexual misconduct. The archdiocese's list from 2004 had 33 names on it; the list published Thursday included an additional priest recently convicted of sex crimes.

Other dioceses have similar lists: Duluth has 17 priests on its list, New Ulm has 12, and St. Cloud's has 26. Victims' attorneys say Crookston's list has five names on it, but that diocese says its list has only four — that a bishop initially misspoke — and that those four names have already been revealed in a court document.

The New Ulm diocese said it was not able to comment when asked if it would be disclosing its list. The Diocese of Duluth did not return messages. Hearings about the disclosures in those dioceses are scheduled for early January, said Mike Finnegan, an attorney for victims.

Jane Marrin, communications consultant for the St. Cloud diocese, said the new bishop there is reviewing policies and needs time to familiarize himself with the diocese before he addresses "this very serious issue."

Finnegan said he hopes the archdiocese's release gives the other bishops courage to voluntarily release their lists.

Still, critics say the archdiocese's list is incomplete. They say several known abusers aren't named, the list doesn't include the allegations against each priest, and some of the priests' assignment histories are incomplete.

"There definitely will be continued pressure to expose all of the information that they have," Finnegan said.

Nationwide, about two dozen other dioceses have made their lists public. Advocates say the Twin Cities case marks the first time a list has been made public by a court order, though other court decisions have unsealed documents that have led to the release of names elsewhere.

© 2014 Star Tribune