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San Bernardino Diocese Will Release Name Of Every Priest Accused Of Sexual Abuse

Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, the flagship church of the San Bernardino Catholic Diocese. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
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The San Bernardino Catholic Diocese plans to release the names of every priest who has been credibly accused of sexually abusing children over 40 years.

Diocese spokesman John Andrews said Tuesday that the list will be published on the diocese's website within two weeks.

The disclosure will be among the latest made or planned by dioceses around the country, including in San Diego, which last week added eight names to its list of accused priest abusers.

The Diocese of San Jose also plans to release the names of alleged predators by mid-October.

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The current wave of disclosures follows a Pennsylvania grand jury report released last month detailing allegations that Pittsburgh-area priests had molested more than 1,000 children.

After that, San Bernardino Bishop Gerald Barnes called a meeting with diocese priests, deacons, religious sisters and others in the community.

"He wanted to talk about what the diocese can do locally to address the genuine angst and disappointment that have come with the release of that report ... ," Andrews said in an interview with KPCC/LAist.

Among the top suggestions from the meeting: publicize a comprehensive list of accused priests.

"That would be done in a spirit of transparency towards the faithful, and also for victims of abuse," Andrews said. "Sometimes to see their abuser's name made public is beneficial in the healing process."

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First, some history. Before the diocese in San Bernardino was formed in 1978, Catholic churches there were part of the San Diego diocese. San Diego's recently released list included Rev. Raymond Etienne. He served as a pastor in a San Bernardino church 20 years after he allegedly sexually assaulted seminarians in Riverside.

In 2007, the San Diego diocese agreed to pay $198 million to 144 people who accused clergy members of sexually abusing them. It was among the largest settlements of its kind in the country.

Joelle Casteix of Orange County, a victims' advocate, formed the group Survivors Taking On Predators, or STOP, four months ago. She says the latest release of names by some California dioceses is too little, too late.

"Child protection and transparency should never be a fad," Casteix said. "These priests and these names should have been made open and transparent when the diocese first found out these guys were molesting children, not 15, 20 or 30 years later."

Casteix is pushing for changes in the laws. She especially wants to allow child victims to sue their attackers even if the statutes of limitations have expired.

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Victims' advocates are calling for a statewide investigation in California.

Since the clergy sex abuse scandal first broke in Boston in 2002, attorneys general in just four states have forced the Catholic Church to turn over their records.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra doesn't discuss potential or ongoing investigations, but confirmed to reporters at a news conference this month that clergy sexual abuse was on his radar.

"We are very aware of the allegations, the actions that were taken in Pennsylvania and the professed actions that other states are planning to take," Becerra said. "California is a leader when it comes to just about everything you can think of. We'll take a backseat to no one when it comes to protecting our people."

Aaron Schrank covers religion, international affairs and the Southern California diaspora under a grant from the Luce Foundation.

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