Monday, September 25, 2023

List of priests who were accused of sexual abuse not enough, says survivors group

(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Pixabay)

On Wednesday, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond made waves when it published a list of 42 names of clergy with “credible and substantiated” allegations of sexual abuse involving minors.

Some of the names were priests who were assigned in Catholic churches in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.

The “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,” or SNAP, claims on their website to be the largest, oldest, and most active support group for women and men wounded by religious and institutional authorities. SNAP has a Virginia Beach chapter, but its local coordinator, Wayne Dorough, was not immediately available for comment.

But SNAP’s executive director, Zach Hiner, made a public statement Wednesday both praising and criticizing the Richmond Diocese for releasing the names.

“It is always helpful for survivors when these lists are posted especially for those who may be suffering in silence. But what is not helpful is when lists are carefully curated to leave off names of priests who have been accused of abuse, but whose allegations haven’t been deemed by church officials to be ‘credible,'” Hiner said.

SNAP is calling on Catholic officials to go a step further.

“We urge Catholic officials in Virginia to not only go back to these lists and add any names that may have been omitted, but also to add work histories, information about current whereabouts and, critically, when the diocese first learned of the allegations and what their immediate response was,” Hiner said. “Only by including this information can we get a clearer picture of what went wrong in Virginia and what must be done now to protect children and prevent abuse.”

SNAP claims to have already heard from survivors in Virginia whose perpetrator’s name have been omitted.

RELATED STORY: Priests in Virginia Beach and Norfolk named on Diocese list detailing ‘credible’ sexual abuse

“The man who abused me was listed on disclosures from both the Diocese of Richmond and the Diocese of Arlington, so I am experiencing some healing and validation,” said Becky Ianni, a survivor and SNAP leader from Virginia. “At the same time, I know there are other victims who are feeling angry, upset, and disbelieved when they see their perpetrator left off, and I am saddened that instead of feeling validated, they are feeling re-victimized.”

It is not clear whether those priests not included on the list were located in the Southside at any point.

Thirteen of the 42 priests on the Richmond list are now deceased, and the rest have been removed from ministry.

Six have been criminally convicted.

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