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Past child sex abuse by priests to be revealed in archdiocese report

Credible reports of past child sex abuse by local priests will be revealed in coming weeks, Oklahoma City Catholic officials say. [Thinkstock images]
Credible reports of past child sex abuse by local priests will be revealed in coming weeks, Oklahoma City Catholic officials say. [Thinkstock images]

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City plans to publicly release two reports in the near future that will disclose all credible reports of past child sexual abuse by priests who were part of the local Catholic Church archdiocese, Archbishop Paul Coakley announced Wednesday.

The first report, which will include a review of files from 1960-2018, is expected to be completed in 10 to 12 weeks, the archdiocese said. A second report, reviewing files before 1960, will be issued later.

"The review will include all instances where credible allegations of child sexual abuse were reported, substantiated, prosecuted or admitted to among priests serving in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City," the archdiocese said in a news release. "Once complete, the report will be made available to the public on the archdiocesan website — www.archokc.org."

“This is a very dark moment in the history of our beautiful, but wounded, Catholic Church," Coakley said. "We are called to prayer and penance for the purification of the Church and our bishops and priests must set the example.

"It calls for a renewed commitment to vigilance, transparency and accountability from our shepherds and indeed for the whole Church. An internal and independent review of previous allegations is a good place to start. No matter how painful this process may become, I am committed to reviewing and sharing the specifics of these cases.”

Archbishop Coakley and Chancellor Michael Scaperlanda presented the plan Wednesday to the Archdiocesan Review Board, which approved its provisions.

The board, which consists mostly of lay members, was created in 2002 as part of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The review and disclosure plan calls for the chancellor to review every priest's file — active and inactive — for priests who have served in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City since 1960. (Before 1972 it was the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa).

"Any file with an allegation of abuse of a minor or an abuse of power in a sexual relationship will be turned over to Ron Shinn, an attorney in the law firm of McAfee and Taft, for review," the archdiocese said.

Shinn is considered to be an expert in internal institutional investigations, the archdiocese said. He and his associates will perform an independent review of the files and investigate further, if they deem it necessary.

After all the files have been reviewed, McAfee and Taft will issue a report with the facts of each case and provide an analysis of how the archdiocese handled the matters over the years. Investigators also will make recommendations, the archdiocese said.

In addition to publishing the report online, a copy will be sent to all priests, deacons and parish staff, church officials said.

It's the law

 

Under Oklahoma law, individuals are required to report an incident or suspicion of sexual abuse of a minor (person under age 18) to law enforcement authorities.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has established a statewide abuse reporting hotline — (800) 522-3511. 

The archdiocese also said incidences of past or present abuse also may be reported to the Abuse of Minors Pastoral Response Hotline at 405-720-9878. A report to the archdiocese does not relieve the individual of the duty to report child abuse to civil authorities as required by state law. 

Randy Ellis

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two... Read more ›

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