NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Baton Rouge released a list of 37 names of priests, including a bishop, credibly accused of child sex abuse. Victims advocates says this is another step forward in transparency.
With 37 names, including one bishop and one seminarian, the diocese of Baton Rouge released a list of those in the church with credible accusations of child sex abuse.
Bishop Michael Duca said the decision to release the names was humbling, but needed to be done.
“I’m really hoping we begin to change the way we do things as a whole as a church and one of that is to be more open and vulnerable in dealing with that especially those dealing with abuse,” said Duca.
Many of the names appear on other lists previously released in Louisiana: including the archdiocese of New Orleans, the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, and the Jesuit order. Four of the seven were included on the list released by archdiocese of New Orleans:
Daniel Patrick Brady was assigned to Holy Ghost in Hammond in the 1960′s when the abuse was reported.
Bryan James Fontenot, was in Ponchatoula in the 1980s at the time of the abuse.
Gerard Joseph Howell was removed from the ministry in New Orleans in the 1990′s.
And John Anthony Weber was ordained in New Orleans.
James Preston Clement, James Funnel, and Henry Neubig did not appear on the New Orleans list , but had ties to New Orleans.
Bishop Duca points to the practice of moving bishops around after accusations surfaced, and hopes making this list public starts to earn back the trust of those accused and others.
“We lost a lot of credibility because we threw up the walls and now we’re trying to find a place where we can model something that can be helpful to people even in their own families,” said Duca.
Attorney Roger Stetter has represented dozens of victims of child sex abuse and settled more than a million dollars with the archdiocese of New Orleans. He says with the publication of more lists, he’s always wary of how comprehensive they are.
“Because the church is the judge and jury as to whether the accusation is credible,” said Stetter.
From his perspective the Diocese of Baton Rouge’s list is more detailed than the list released by the Archdiocese of New Orleans, but still doesn’t have what he says is a critical piece of information: what kind of abuse the priest was accused of.
“That’s something you’d want to know if you were a judge and this was a fair tribunal rather than an kangaroo court you’d want to know whether the accused was accused of shoplifting or murder and you’d want to know if a priest was accused of inappropriate touching or raping a 9-year-old altar boy and we don’t know that that’s not reported,” said Stetter.
But he says in seeing how victims come forward to him and others with their trauma following other list publications, he says it’s a step in the right direction.
“More and more of this is going to come out but the basic question is what is the church going to do,” said Stetter.
Bishop Duca in the news conference addressed how the list is a living document.
They plan to publicly announce any additions to the list as they’re made aware of them.