The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston will release the names of priests in South Carolina credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors dating back to 1950, the diocese announced Friday. The names will be released by mid-February.
"We are committed to transparency," Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone said in a statement. "Releasing the names of those credibly accused is another step in the healing process for all who have been harmed by priests."
For decades, Catholic officials knew of the abuse but often preferred to reassign clergy to posts in other jurisdictions, protecting the church while putting additional children in harm's way.
As early as 2002, the diocese had received allegations against 24 priests since the 1960s, 12 of whom were removed from the ministry.
The Diocese of Charleston and many others throughout the U.S. have long refused to release a list of priests and other employees they knew to have sexually abused minors.
The local diocese said it is currently reviewing its personnel files from 2007 through today. As part of its 2007 class-action settlement, the diocese conducted an internal review of abuse allegations and shared results, including a list of names, with law enforcement. Once the current review is finished, officials will make public the complete list of abusive priests.
In 2007, the diocese agreed to pay up to $12 million to nearly 150 people — victims born before Aug. 30, 1980, who were sexually abused by priests and diocese employees, and victims' eligible family members. Those payouts ranged from $13,000 to $425,000 each.
David Clohessy, former national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, now director of SNAP in St. Louis, has been following developments in Charleston for many years. He welcomed the news, but noted that much more transparency was needed.
“It’s a very belated, grudging step that many church officials are taking these days because of tremendous pressure from prosecutors and parishioners," he said. "Kids are safer every time even a single predator is identified."
But Clohessy said the diocese should do more than release the names of offending priests.
“We believe (the list) should include nuns, brothers, seminarians, bishops and lay (people),” he said. “We hope it includes photos and current or last-known whereabouts. If the goal is to protect kids, that information is crucial.”
What’s more, he called on the diocese to share the date each allegation of abuse against Catholic officials was deemed credible.
“That way we’ll know how many years or decades church officials have hidden these predators,” he said.
Also on Friday, the Jesuits U.S. Central and Southern Province released a list of names of Jesuits with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, one of which served as a priest in Charleston.
Adam Parker and Tony Bartelme contributed to this report.