Oakland Catholic Diocese files motion to keep names of accused child sex abusers secret

Dan Noyes Image
Wednesday, June 21, 2023
Oakland Diocese trying to keep names of accused abusers a secret
The Catholic Diocese of Oakland has filed a motion to keep names of priests accused of child sex abuse confidential.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Catholic Diocese of Oakland is trying to keep the names of priests who abused children a secret. They filed that motion in a federal bankruptcy court as the diocese faces hundreds of new lawsuits. A state law gave survivors of sexual abuse by clergy until this past Dec. 31 to file lawsuits, no matter how long ago it happened. So many new claims came in, it drove the diocese to bankruptcy.

The attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Oakland first raised the issue at a hearing earlier this month, Ann Marie Uetz telling the federal bankruptcy court, "The notice and confidentiality has to do with what names will be made public."

Then, she filed a motion to keep the names and contact information of priests and other diocese staff who may have committed child sexual abuse confidential, "to avoid the risk of identity theft and harassment."

I-TEAM EXCLUSIVE: Marin County man confronts past as Catholic priest accused of sex abuse

A Marin County man was forced to confront his past, after his name appears on a list of clergy accused of child sexual abuse.

But survivors of clergy sexual abuse who were there for the hearing Tuesday, pointed out that Oakland Bishop Michael Barber - despite claims of transparency and concern for victims - has failed to release important information, even on recent cases.

Dan McNevin from the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told the I-Team's Dan Noyes, "Not one memo has gone out to the pressures of Oakland saying, hey, Father, so and so has been accused. And that means that there's been no outreach, so this it's all a sham."

Survivors attorney, Rick Simons, added: "They give lip service to that but when it comes time to actually take actions to be transparent in their words, they're as transparent as a brick wall."

The Catholic Diocese of Oakland has posted photos of 21 priests who have been "credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor" and the names of dozens more problem priests and deacons from outside the diocese who lived in Oakland - older cases. But, court documents show as of May 4, they're facing 332 separate, active lawsuits. Now, the church is also seeking confidentiality for church officials who may have covered up the criminal acts.

MORE: Bay Area church abuse victim breaks silence more than 40 years later

Survivors' attorney Brent Weisenberg said, "That has never been requested before in my experience in diocese cases, we have never seen a request that those who are alleged to have covered up the abuse be kept secret."

Attorneys for the Oakland Diocese declined to comment for this report. The judge did not decide whether to grant their motion for confidentiality, asking both sides to file new briefs on the issue for a hearing next month.

"It appears now they're doubling down on what they've always been alleged to have been, which is to keep things secret," said Weisenberg. "That is not the right way to start this case."

We also reached out to Bishop Barber's office for comment, did not hear back, but we'll post any info we receive from the diocese.

Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live