Diocese of Oakland releases names of 45 clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors

The Diocese of Oakland on Monday released a list of priests, deacons and religious brothers it has determined to be credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The list includes 20 priests of the Oakland Diocese and only six are now living.

None are functioning publicly as a priest. One is excommunicated and the other has been removed of his status. Neither are  affiliated with the Diocese of Oakland. The other four have been directed to lives of prayer and penance, the Diocese said, and they are being provided "minimal sustenance" required by church law. A list of assignments for the men can be found here

In addition, 22 priests, deacons and brothers from 10 religious orders; and three priests who are from other dioceses but worked or lived in the Oakland Diocese were also credibly accused and they are not allowed to conduct any ministerial activity.

There are 45 names in all and they date back to 1962. A total of 174 children were abused. The Oakland Diocese released the names after dioceses in Santa Rosa and San Jose did the same thing earlier last year.

"My first reaction in seeing the list of names of priests who have abused, is one of deep shame," Bishop Michael C. Barber wrote. "These are monstrous crimes, committed by priests who are supposed to model virtue and grace, not sin and harm. By publishing this list, I am making an “Act of Contrition” on behalf of my Church. At the heart of this is SIN." 

The Diocese posted the list on its website and in the Catholic Voice.  It serves two counties in the East Bay region, Alameda and Contra Costa, and includes approximately 500,000 Catholics in 84 parishes.

"I hope this will help bring healing," Barber said of publishing the list, adding that it is a "living list" and will be updated as necessary.

Barber said there are currently more than 120 priests in the Diocese of Oakland, none of whom have a credible allegation of abuse of a minor. There has been no credible incident of abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon of the Diocese of Oakland since 1988.

But Melanie Sakoda, a spokeswoman for SNAP or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the list should have included more names and more details.

“I’m kind of worried for people whose abusers’ names are not on the list because it's very painful if they've reported it to the diocese… to them that's like, 'They didn't believe me,’” Sakoda said.

She said SNAP has compiled a list of roughly 100 names, compared to the 45 released by the Diocese of Oakland. Joey Piscitelli, the Northwest Leader for SNAP, said the list does not include the names of accused people who are not ordained, like a lay teacher at Salesian High School in Richmond who went on trial in Martinez for abusing a child in the early 2000’s. 

“They could have put a lot more names on [the list] and they should have put a lot more names on,” Piscitelli said. “They said they were going to be transparent and have nothing to hide. They’re not being transparent and they have a lot to hide.”

Piscitelli was 14 when he was abused by Father Stephen Whelan at Salesian in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Whelan’s name is on the list released by the Diocese of Oakland.

“They've never apologized,” he said. “They went through a bitter lawsuit and this is the first time they've ever acknowledged it.”

Chancellor Stephen Wilcox with the Diocese of Oakland said the church has made strides in changing the culture. He said there is a large program of safety initiatives and training in place.

“Today is just a milestone for us,” Wilcox said. “We consider this a living list, part of an ongoing process to be transparent, primarily to help with the healing of our victims.”

He admits the diocese still has a lot of work to do on the list. An independent reviewer will look over their files and determine if more names need to be added to the list. 

“We really are focused on keeping our kids safe,” Wilcox said.

Around the country, church leaders are trying to come clean, as well. Last week, New Jersey's five Roman Catholic dioceses  released the names of more than 180 priests they say were credibly accused of sexually abusing minors. The Anderson kaw firm said that number was also "seriously deficient."

New Jersey is one of more than two dozen states where dioceses have released the names of abusive clergy members since a Pennsylvania grand jury report in August identified over 300 predator priests.

In terms of cost, a global settlement of 56 lawsuits against the Diocese of Oakland for sexual misconduct with minors by 13 priests was announced in 2005, totaling of $56 million, with $25 million coming from the Diocese and the remainder paid by insurers. The Diocese covered its portion of the settlement by the sale of real estate and assuming a loan for the remainder.

In addition, the Diocese has provided approximately $124,000 for the survivors’ ministry and slightly more than $1.3 million in direct support of survivors. Since 2004, the Diocese has spent slightly less than $600,000 for the care of priests restricted from public ministry.

 Anyone with information concerning an allegation of sexual misconduct by a clergy member or any diocesan employee  should contact the local authority, i.e. police or sheriff department and the chancellor for the Diocese of Oakland, Mr. Stephen Wilcox, swilcox@oakdiocese.org or 510-267-8334.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.