The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno still hasn’t released its list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse over two years after starting to review what to publicly release.
The Fresno diocese and the Archdiocese of San Francisco are the only dioceses in California which have not publicly released a list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.
The diocese started working with a review board in September 2018 to decide on what to make public, and the diocese announced they had hired Kinsale Management Consulting to review records before they could release information. They said the list would be released by early 2020 at the time.
The investigation “is a work in progress” which “will be released” when “it is completed… I do not know how much longer it will take,” said Cheryl Sarkisian, chancellor at the Fresno diocese.
Joey Piscitelli from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) accused Bishop Joseph V. Brennan of being “willing to protect accused clergy,” saying Brennan may have decided not to release a list yet because “it will show that the diocese has had a pattern of secrecy and concealment of accused clergy, and the diocese would rather continue that pattern, rather than commit to full transparency.”
Piscitelli also said the diocese may be delaying the list because of pending lawsuits which were the result of the Child Victims Act; Piscitelli said releasing a list of names can encourage lawsuits.
“Another reason Bishop Brennan may not want to list the names is because it may encourage victims of those accused priest to come forward if they see the diocese has admitted that certain priests were in fact credibly accused,” he said. “Those victims may feel empowered or validated, and may come forward with a new claim or lawsuit.”
The diocese would not comment to The Fresno Bee on the claim that the diocese is stalling the release so as to not encourage lawsuits.
The Child Victims Act increased the statute of limitations to age 40 or five years after discovering an injury was caused by abuse, whichever occurs later. Multiple lawsuits against the diocese were filed soon after the Child Victims Act passed.
The Fresno diocese is taking part in a victims compensation program which operates independently from the church.
At least 49 Fresno diocese clergy members have been accused of sexual abuse.