YAKIMA — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Yakima has established a website listing the names of priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor during their time of Central Washington ministry from 1955 – 2017, with a significant majority reported during the past 20 years.
On Wednesday, July 10, Diocese of Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson authorized the release of information with an effort to help reach out from the past and encourage persons sexually abused by clergy or by anyone working on behalf of the Church to come forward.
“I think this is part of a broader effort to help people to see what we’re doing, which is dealing properly with cases of abuse and working for healing to those who have been abused,” Rev. Msgr, Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia Robert Siler acknowledged.
There are 195 Catholic Dioceses in the U.S., and less than half of them have presently disclosed a public account of those responsible for the abuse, according to Siler.
Bishops who oversee the dioceses have come to a consensus and this year, 50 - 75 percent of church districts are expected to announce or plan to produce a similar register he added.
To view the Yakima Diocese Abuse Disclosure List, visit https://sites.google.com/a/yakimadiocese.com/abuse-disclosure-list/ or bit.ly/YakimaAbuseList.
The individuals named on the list have served in the Diocese of Yakima, as noted. Locations of known assignments are included but does not mean there were allegations of abuse at each place.
The diocese confirmed their list may include errors or be incomplete. They have stated that once new data has been received or identified, or allegations are substantiated after investigation and review in consultation with the Yakima Diocesan Lay Advisory Board, the public record will be updated.
According to the Monsignor, reports of abuse that date back more than 60 years, without any church records or people left alive to testify, have contributed in making investigations difficult to follow through on.
Reports of child abuse within the Boston Diocese surfaced and attracted national attention in 2001, which raised serious questions about the Church’s credibility and how inadequately they dealt with sexual abuses cases involving minors.
“We know that it can be very difficult for people to talk about past abuse, but it can take many years before they have the strength to come forward,” Silar noted, who was coincidentally ordained as a priest in 2001 and began his ministry career in the Tri-Cities.
Following public outcry about widespread child abuse offenses being reported in Catholic Dioceses, Bishops implemented the Dallas Charter and updated their Essential Norms that codified Church law on how to handle sexual abuse cases involving minors moving forward in 2002-03.
In addition to the abuse disclosure list, a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document to help explain the information and definition of terms used is available on the site.
The Diocesan Central Administration Offices is located in the Pastoral Center at 5301 Tieton Drive, Yakima.
“We have had a hotline for close to 20 years now, and we include bulletin notices in our parishes. Periodically, the hotline number has been in the news. And, so, we have welcomed reports of abuse,” Silar affirmed. “But sometimes an effort like this making the names of past abusers more public can also encourage people to come forward.”
Anyone sexually abused by clergy or by those working on behalf of the Church is encouraged to contact the Yakima Diocese Victim Assistance Coordinator which is also the hotline phone number at 1-888-276-4490, or local law enforcement.