San Jose diocese to release names of every priest believed to have abused minors

ByAmanda del Castillo KGO logo
Friday, September 14, 2018
SJ diocese to release names of every priest believed to have abused minors
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"I was 12 years old, 13 years old. That was 40 years ago. I could remember that day like yesterday." A San Jose survivor speaks to ABC7 News.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Catholic leaders in San Jose are working to be more transparent about sexual abuse by priests. By mid-October, they plan on releasing the names of every priest throughout the city who is believed to have abused minors.

This is just one step towards improving transparency regarding sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

RELATED: Will Calif. officials investigate Catholic church sex scandal?

The issue came to light again in August, when a grand jury report found that two Roman Catholic bishops in Pennsylvania helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 church figures across the state.

In the first public pledge from a Bay Area diocese, San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath said the crimes and cover-up have fueled a crisis.

His letter to parishioners came the same day Pope Francis met in Rome with leaders of the American Catholic Church.

In San Jose in the 1970s, 12 boys were molested at St. Martin of Tours church. In the early 2000s, the 12 survivors testified about their years of sexual abuse by the late Reverend Joseph Pritchard. The group came forward after Pritchard's death.

One of those survivors, John Salberg, spoke with ABC7 News. Salberg said the abuse started when he was in the second grade and lasted over a period of seven years.

"'Did it happen to you? 'Cause it happened to me,'" Salberg said, recalling the moment he learned he wasn't the only victim. "I was 12 years old, 13 years old. That was 40 years ago. I could remember that day like yesterday."

In 2005, the Archdiocese of San Francisco admitted guilt, which is one reason Salberg said he can't believe it took decades and a Pennsylvania grand jury to bring the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church to light.

RELATED: Catholic priest denies report suggesting celibacy leads to pedophilia

"I don't know what more we could've done," he said. "Why wasn't that good enough, especially when the church admitted guilt about it?"

In Bishop McGrath's statement Thursday, he acknowledged the church did not do its part: "The only way that we can address the failed leadership of so many in the Catholic Church in the United States and around the world is for the Diocese of San Jose to do what we know is right and just."

Actions by the diocese include three listening sessions that will seek input from parishioners and victims.

Here is the list of published sessions:

  1. Saturday, September 22, 10 a.m., at Our Lady of the Rosary Hall in Palo Alto
  2. Tuesday, October 2, 7 p.m., at Most Holy Trinity Parish in San Jose
  3. Wednesday, October 17, 3 p.m., at Santa Teresa Parish in San Jose

The diocese will also release the names and statuses of those credibly accused of abuse.

Finally, a former FBI executive will be working with the diocese on an internal investigation.

Salberg said he's hopeful these actions will allow victims the opportunity to heal and eventually identify as survivors.

"I'm John Salberg and I made it," he said through tears. "That doesn't mean it was easy. It just means you can make it, and I think that's the important thing."

Read Bishop McGrath's full statement.

See more stories related to sex abuse by priests.