The Diocese of Winona this morning put out its long-awaited list of priests accused of sexual abuse of children, and the statement was notable for its almost total lack of contrition, empathy, sensitivity to those who were victims and to the parishes affected -- it was all business.
You might even call it defensive, citing facts in the John Jay College study that suggest the problem peaked in the late '70s and early '80s, and incidence of abuse by priests dropped sharply after that.
Here's that statement -- it hit my email box at 10:45 a.m. and we got the story on the front page late in the press run today:
A Statement from Most Rev. John M. Quinn, Bishop of Winona
WINONA, MN – December 16, 2013 – In 2002, the National Review Board commissioned the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct a blind study to determine the nature and scope of child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Each diocese in the United States was contacted by John Jay College and was required to report the number of priests within its diocese who had “credible” accusations of abuse.
The national study required the report of any accusation that was not implausible (see definition below). This included allegations that did not necessarily result in a criminal, civil or diocesan investigation and allegations that were unsubstantiated.
The national study defined an implausible allegation as one that could not possibly have happened under the given circumstances (e.g., an accusation is made to a bishop about a priest who never served at that diocese). The study went on to say that erroneous information does not necessarily make the allegation implausible (e.g., a priest arrived at the diocese a year after the alleged abuse, but all other facts of the case are credible and the alleged victim might have mistaken the
date). Allegations that were determined not to be “implausible” have since been referred to as “credible” accusations.
The methodology of the national study encouraged over-reporting and the study specifically directed each diocese not to engage in the endeavor of weighing the credibility of any of the accusations out of concern that the data produced by the study would arguably be invalid because of subjective determinations as to the credibility of, or substantiation of, the allegation(s).
The national study concluded that approximately 4% of priests in ministry in the United States had accusations of abuse made against them. The study also found that the annual number of incidents of sexual abuse of minors by priests increased steadily to a peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s and then declined sharply after 1985.
The Ramsey County District Court has ordered that the Diocese of Winona publicly release the names associated with the John Jay College Study, as well any other priests who have had accusations of child sexual abuse since 2004. In compliance with that Order, the Diocese of Winona hereby releases the following names, ages, places of ministry, ministerial status and current location of each priest associated with the John Jay Study, as well as the same information of those who have been accused of perpetrating sexual abuse against a minor since 2002.
Thirteen John Jay Study Priests
Thomas P. Adamson - Permanently removed from ministry in 1984; laicized 2009.
Sylvester F. Brown - Deceased 2010.
Joseph C. Cashman - Permanently removed from ministry in 1992; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal.
Louis G. Cook - Deceased 2004.
William D. Curtis - Deceased 2001.
John R. Feiten - Deceased 2001.
Richard E. Hatch - Deceased 2005.
Ferdinand L. Kaiser - Deceased 1973.
Jack L. Krough - Permanently removed from ministry in 2002; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal.
Michael J. Kuisle - Deceased 1971.
James W. Lennon -Deceased 2000.
Leland J. Smith - Permanently removed from ministry in 1994; laicization pending in Canonical Tribunal.
Robert H. Taylor - Deceased 2012.
Priests Accused of Abuse after 2004
Leo Charles Koppala - Administrative leave pending outcome of criminal proceedings in Faribault County, MN.
The Diocese of Winona is committed to the protection of young people and adherence to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and encourages anyone who has been sexual abused to immediately report the abuse to law enforcement or the proper authorities.
Complete Safe Environment program details and policies can be viewed on the diocesan website, www.dow.org, follow the link on the right side of the page titled “Keeping Our Promise to Protect”. The Disclosure Regarding Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors can be found by following the “Victims Assistance and Advocacy” link.
Later in the day, the diocese put out another statement. It hit my email box at 4:45 p.m.
This one's an apology, of a kind. The bishop says, "For this, I am truly sorry," and he goes on to say this abuse must never happen again -- he doesn't say, the church's own misconduct in failing to protect children also must never happen again, but the whole tone of this statement is different:
A Statement from Most Rev. John M. Quinn, Bishop of Winona
WINONA, MN – December 16, 2013 - Earlier today, the Diocese of Winona released a list of 13 priest names associated with the John Jay Study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2002. The accompanying statement provided detailed information about the study and the Diocese of Winona’s release of the priest names. This statement can be found on our website at www.dow.org.
Over the past few decades, a number of clergy members in the Diocese of Winona sadly have been accused of violating the sacred trust placed in them by children, youth and their families and were accused of detestable crimes of sexual abuse. This has caused insufferable harm to victims, their families, parishioners and the Church. For this I am truly sorry.
The Diocese of Winona has fully adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (“the Charter”), as promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop, and is committed to combating the problems of sexual abuse, protecting the young and vulnerable, caring for the victims of abuse, and restoring trust and hope. We are committed to a process of transparency about sexual abuse by clergy and the disclosure of names of those with substantiated claims so that this will never occur again.
The Diocese of Winona works vigorously and has taken extraordinary measures to ensure that all of the schools, parishes and programs administered in the Diocese adhere to the Charter so that those entrusted to our care are safe.
Nearly 5,000 priests, deacons, lay employees, volunteers and seminarians complete the Virtus Safe Environment Program annually. This ongoing program strengthens the stringent policies and procedures that have been in place for over a decade now. Everyone is invited to examine these resources on our website www.dow.org and share with us ideas and ways that we can further strengthen our programs. If you have been harmed or know someone who has been harmed, the information needed to report the claim can be found on the site.
It is a difficult time for the Church in the Diocese of Winona. It is also a time of hope which presents an opportunity to heal and continue moving forward. Today, our parishes are vibrant and safer than ever before. Our priests, deacons, religious, volunteers, lay leaders and parishioners are of one heart. A heart fully committed to reflecting the love of Jesus Christ through everything we do in worship, faith formation, education and service.
Why would the diocese put out two statements? Did they get some blowback on the first one, that it was totally inadequate to the occasion?
Here's something that may be relevant. This morning, I was dealing with the diocesan director of communications regarding an interview with the bishop and got nowhere, because of demands and preconditions -- only a reporter of their choice would be allowed to interview the bishop, and questions had to be submitted in advance. I immediately rejected that and didn't hear back regarding other options.
Late in the day, I was contacted by a PR consultant that's "trying to help coordinate interviews with Bishop Quinn." We're working on a time for that interview Tuesday morning.
Maybe that consultant also gave the bishop some good advice on how to respond more directly and personally to today's revelations.