Oakland Diocese releases names of priests accused of sex abuse; Survivor advocates say it omits names of dangerous priests

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Survivor advocates: Oakland Diocese list omits names of dangerous priests
The Catholic Diocese of Oakland published a list of 45 priests who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse, but survivor advocates say the list omits names of dangerous priests.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Catholic Diocese of Oakland published a list Monday of 45 priests who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse, but survivor advocates say the list omits names of dangerous priests.

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Many of the 45 priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse have already appeared on ABC7 or in other published reports, but five are new names that don't appear in any public database. They're part of what the Oakland Diocese says is a new era of transparency.

"Our two most important priorities, keep our children safe, healing and justice for our survivors," said Oakland Catholic Diocese Chancellor Stephen Wilcox.

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But attorneys and advocates for clergy abuse survivors say the list is too short. In October, attorney Jeff Anderson released a report that found 95 priests accused of sexual misconduct in the Oakland Diocese.

Anderson told a news conference in October, "How many more files do they have, how many more offenders are they now keeping secret?"

The Oakland Diocese now says Anderson counted priests who lived here for a time, but offended in other parts of the state, and that the publication of the list Monday is just a start.

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"We're having an independent reviewer come in and look at our files, look at our processes," said Wilcox. "That report, that independent report, should be done in late spring."

Joey Piscitelli heads the Northern California chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. He tells us Oakland's list is so short, it's deceitful: "If you're not going to be fully transparent, then you're not transparent."

The list does include the priest who abused Picitelli when he was a boy at Richmond's Salesian High School. The I-Team's Dan Noyes confronted Father Steve Whelan in 2005.

Whelan: "This is just a, it's a spurious argument, accusation, so I am not in any-- I have not been suspended or anything."

Noyes: "And so, there's no truth to the accusation?"

Whelan: ""None at all, from my point of view."

But, Piscitelli sued the church and a jury awarded him $650-thousand. Now, he says the Oakland Diocese still hasn't come clean.

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"They said they have nothing to hide," said Piscitellli. "And they're hiding a lot or hiding a lot of names, of a lot of accused and sued and convicted abusers that just aren't on the list."

The pope's summit on preventing clergy sex abuse begins Thursday. Over the weekend, the Vatican announced the highest ranking American church official to be reprimanded for sex abuse. Former Cardinal and Archbishop of Washington, DC Theodore McCarrick is being defrocked for sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians. Vatican spokesman Allesandro Gisotti said, "Both abuse and its cover-up can no longer be tolerated."

The only diocese or archdiocese in the Bay Area not to publish names of priests who abused children is San Francisco. A spokesman there today told the I-Team a review is underway, and they've made no decision yet if names of priests will be published.

Read the Oakland Diocese's list here.

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