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Priests, deacons and religious brothers credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor

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Priests, deacons and religious brothers credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor

Statement by Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ

Feb. 18, 2019

Dear parishioners and friends of the Oakland Diocese,

With a heavy heart, I am publishing the names of 20 diocesan priests, 22 religious order priests, deacons and brothers and three priests from other dioceses who have worked in the Diocese of Oakland and have had credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors. The only acceptable number is “zero.” However, there are right now more than 120 faithful, active and dedicated priests serving our 500,000 Catholics in our two-county diocese. We are on duty daily to serve you.

There has been no credible incident of abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon of the Diocese of Oakland since 1988. I can assure that today, no priest or deacon who is in active ministry in the Diocese of Oakland has a credible allegation of abuse of a minor.

My first reaction in seeing the list of names of priests who have abused, is one of deep shame. These are monstrous crimes, committed by priests who are supposed to model virtue and grace, not sin and harm. By publishing this list, I am making an “Act of Contrition” on behalf of my Church.

I promised to publish a list, not to reopen the wounds of survivors, but to declare, “We have nothing to hide.” It is a “living list,” and will be updated as needed.

I hope this will help bring healing to those who have suffered. I renew our offer of counseling, therapy, support and outreach to survivors. The Diocese has worked with survivors of sexual abuse since the 1990s. In 2008, a healing garden was dedicated by Bishop Allen Vigneron on a plaza of the Cathedral of Christ the Light.

I have met with survivors personally. I have seen and heard their pain. I have witnessed the damage abusers have committed. A priest is supposed to be a man who leads people to God. But, like some physicians who use their skills to take away life through abortion or assisted suicide, so some priests have used their position of trust to take away faith and destroy a child’s innocence. This is so very wrong.

At the heart of this is SIN. Sin is real. It is a moral calamity. We as a Church, and as priests, need to deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to listen to Him, not the Evil One. Sin is not the last word. We believe in Christ’s power to heal.

I pray the public acknowledgement of the sinful actions on the part of some priests will help many of us to find healing and hope, to restore our trust in the Church, and to repair the damage caused to the reputation of so many good priests. The needs of victims and survivors, and the protection of children and vulnerable adults is our first priority.


Most Reverend Michael Barber, S.J.
Bishop of Oakland

Background

What is a credible accusation?

How can I report information?

How much is this costing the Diocese?

What is the Diocese doing to support victims and survivors?

What are we doing to prevent abuse from happening?

How was the list compiled?

This list includes priests, deacons and religious brothers who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors and who have lived in the Diocese of Oakland going back to Jan. 13, 1962, when the Diocese was founded. The Diocese of Oakland includes Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Prior to 1962 these two counties were part of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

There are 45 names on this list.

Of those, 20 were priests of the Diocese of Oakland. Of those individuals, 14 are deceased. Of the remaining six men, none are functioning publicly as a priest. They cannot appear in public as a priest or perform any public acts as a priest. One is excommunicated and one is laicized; both are no longer affiliated with the Diocese of Oakland. Legally the Diocese cannot require them to provide contact information. The other four have been directed to lives of prayer and penance; the Diocese is providing minimal sustenance for them and any retirement benefits required by law. A list of assignments for these 20 men can be found at www.oakdiocese.org/credibly-accused.

The Diocese does not have the ability to monitor priests or deacons from other dioceses, or men who are members of religious orders. There are 22 men included who were or are members of religious orders, including the Brothers of the Christian Schools, LaSallian Christian Brothers; Congregation of Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers; Dominicans; Franciscans; Jesuits; Marianists; Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer); Salesians of St. John Bosco; and Society of the Precious Blood. Three priests from other dioceses are included on the list. Bishop Barber has restricted all of these men from functioning in ministerial activity in the Diocese of Oakland.

There has been no credible incident of abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon of the Diocese of Oakland since 1988. We do not have complete records regarding the priests, deacons, and brothers who served in our diocese but are from other dioceses or religious orders. Today, no priest or deacon who is in active ministry in the Diocese of Oakland has a credible allegation of abuse of a minor.

This list will be updated as we receive additional information.

Anyone with information concerning an allegation of sexual misconduct by a clergy member or any diocesan employee  should contact the local authority, i.e. police or sheriff department and the chancellor for the Diocese of Oakland,  or 510-267-8334.

Credible accusation

There is no standard definition for a “credible accusation.” For the Diocese of Oakland, we used the following criteria to determine if a name should be placed on this list.

The Diocese must have knowledge of an allegation made against the person to be named and the allegation must include all the following.

  • The allegation involved sexual abuse of a minor (under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged abuse).
  • The alleged perpetrator was a priest, deacon, religious brother, or religious sister either at the time of the alleged abuse or sometime after the alleged abuse.
  • The alleged abuse is claimed to have been committed:
    • within the geographic jurisdiction of the Diocese of Oakland, or
    • by a priest or deacon of the Diocese of Oakland, or
    • by a seminarian or lay person affiliated with the Diocese who was later ordained, or
    • by a priest or deacon who is known to have lived in Alameda or Contra Costa counties and who has been identified by another diocese, a religious order, law enforcement or a court of law as being credibly accused.
    • After review of the reasonably available, relevant information, there is reason to believe the allegation is more likely than not to be true.

The process for evaluating whether an allegation is credible was not a legal process. Examples of information used to ascertain credibility include, but are not limited to, admissions by the accused, criminal convictions, other types of legal actions, patterns of conduct, and prior determinations closer to the time of the alleged sexual abuse or the time when the matter was first investigated. The determination of credibility of an allegation does not establish that a crime was committed. 

Every allegation of abuse by a member of the clergy, diocesan and parish employee, or parish volunteer is reviewed by the Diocesan Review Board, an independent group of professionals which was established in 1993. Initially the board was called the Sensitive Issues Committee; in 2003 it was renamed the Diocesan Review Board.  The Board is responsible for investigating allegations of clergy sexual abuse, assessing the allegation and making recommendations to the Bishop regarding the alleged offender.  It operates as a consultative body to the Bishop.

Outreach to survivors

The Diocese has worked with survivors of sexual abuse since the 1990s. In 2008, a healing garden was dedicated by Bishop Allen Vigneron on a plaza of the Cathedral of Christ the Light. Since 2002, when the Diocese first began to keep financial records related to ministry for survivors, the Diocese has provided approximately $124,000 for the survivors’ ministry and slightly more than $1.325 million in direct support of survivors.

The Diocese has responsibility for the sustenance of the four priests from the Diocese who have been restricted to lives of prayer and penance. This sustenance is mandated by Church law. Since 2004, the Diocese has spent slightly less than $600,000 for the care of priests restricted from public ministry.

If a man has been laicized or excommunicated, he is no longer a priest and the Diocese has no responsibility for him.

In 2005 Bishop Allen Vigneron announced a global settlement of 56 lawsuits against the Diocese of Oakland for sexual misconduct with minors by 13 priests. A total of $56,358,000 was paid, with $25,318,000 coming from the Diocese and the remainder paid by insurers. The Diocese covered its portion of the settlement by the sale of real estate and assuming a loan for the remainder.

Looking to the future

Every candidate for the priesthood and diaconate undergoes a thorough investigation and formation. Seminarians and diaconal candidates for the Diocese of Oakland are required to undergo psychological screening, receive safe environment training and criminal record checks, and receive formation in psychosexual development.

Priests from other dioceses in the United States (and many other countries) or members of religious orders undergo similar safe environment training and criminal record checks as our own clergy and laity. In addition, their superiors (either a bishop or major superior of their order) must provide written verification they are suitable for ministry in the Diocese of Oakland.

Article 13 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People states, "When a priest or deacon, not incardinated in the diocese/eparchy, is to engage in ministry in the diocese/eparchy, regardless of the length of time, the evaluation of his background may be satisfied through a written attestation of suitability for ministry supplied by his proper ordinary/major superior to the diocese/eparchy.” The letter is specific to the event happening in the receiving diocese – the celebration of sacraments, a retreat, a presentation, etc. These letters must come directly from the major superior or bishop. They cannot be carried by the visiting clergy, nor can we accept “celebret” cards sent or carried by the visiting clergy. The letter of suitability for ministry should be sent to Chancellor Steve Wilcox, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland 94612. If schedules do not allow the letter to be sent via postal mail, it can be sent via email to [email protected].

Perhaps most importantly, the Diocese has implemented the requirements of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Anyone who works in ministry with children, whether a clergy, religious, employee or volunteer, is required to attend training on safe environments (with retraining every three years) and undergo a criminal record check. This means 33,334 volunteers, employees and clergy in our Diocese know the warning signs of predatory behavior, know the Diocese’s code of conduct and know how to report suspicious activity of anyone who might want to harm children More information on our safe environment training is available on our website.

This list will be updated as we receive additional information.

Anyone with information concerning an allegation of sexual misconduct by a clergy member or any diocesan employee  should contact the local authority, i.e. police or sheriff department and the chancellor for the Diocese of Oakland,  or 510-267-8334.