The Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania has just released the names of over 70 members of its clergy who have been accused of sexual abuse in cases spanning back to the 1940s.
At a news conference this morning, Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg released the list, revealing that since becoming bishop in 2014, he has overseen an effort to “verify the status of priests” accused of abuse going back more than half a century. He told the York Daily Record that he wanted to release the list sooner but that the office of the attorney general had requested that the diocese refrain from doing so to avoid interference with the state investigation of clerical abuse throughout Pennsylvania.
With the pending release of an interim grand jury report detailing findings of some 300 priests accused of abuse in six of Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses, including Harrisburg, the diocese decided to move forward with disclosure of the names. According to the Record:
Gainer said he has learned that some survivors who had confidentiality agreements with the diocese have felt constrained by those agreements. He is waiving those confidentiality agreements. This is expected to be huge for survivors who want to tell their stories.
According to the diocese, none of the clergy named in the list is involved in active ministry or teaching.
Sharon Tell, a 66-year-old woman who claims to have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a now deceased priest beginning at age 12 while living in the Allentown diocese, indicated her disappointment in the diocese’s actions. “If they really cared about the people that were abused they wouldn’t have had to wait until it’s so public,” said Tell, in comments to the Record. “They could have done something to help us way back when.”