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New Database Lets You Search For Clergy 'Credibly Accused' Of Abuse

Michael Duran received nearly $1 million in a sex abuse settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2014. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Our friends at ProPublica, an non-profit investigative newsroom based in New York City, released a first-of-its-kind database this week.

The “Credibly Accused” database does what the Catholic Church has not: compiled all lists released so far by U.S. diocese of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct or assault. [Note: That criteria may vary from diocese to diocese.]

We asked data reporter Ellis Simani a few questions about this project:

Q: This type of database didn’t exist before. What did it take to create it?

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A: Creating this database took nearly a year and required tons of reporting as well as writing software to scrape websites, manually entering thousands of pieces of data and thinking through the best way to present disparate information in a uniform way.

We collected data from nearly 180 sources, some of which were simple lists of names in text documents and others were entire webpages. Many of the dioceses don’t report when their lists change, so we returned to each of them several times over the course of our reporting to keep track.

That’s a lot of effort and time. Why did ProPublica believe it was important work?

It’s important to make data useful. That’s not the situation we found when we first started collecting the lists. The disclosures are disconnected from each other, and the lists themselves are often inconsistent, incomplete and omit key details.

We wanted to make a tool so that survivors and those personally affected by clergy abuse could have a central location to search and view the disclosures of every diocese and religious order in the country. Non-reporting is still an important issue; 41 dioceses and dozens of religious orders still haven’t released lists. Millions of Catholics are waiting for their dioceses to disclose what they know.

What can people in L.A. and other parts of Southern California look up in this new database?

Angelenos can use our tool to search for clergy who may have served in Los Angeles or in other dioceses in Southern California that have released lists of credibly accused priests. They can also search for a church school or an individual parish.

Because many dioceses publish the assignment histories for credibly accused priests, people can also find priests from dioceses that haven’t published lists yet, like the Archdiocese of San Francisco, because they may show up in disclosures released by other dioceses or religious order communities.