By Corky Siemaszko and Alex Johnson
The attorney for a California clergy abuse survivor accused the leaders of three San Francisco Bay Area dioceses on Tuesday of engaging in an “institutional cover-up of an enormous magnitude” and released a list of 263 local priests whom they branded sexual predators.
The priests named in the 66-page report, compiled by the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates of St. Paul, Minnesota, are from the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the dioceses of Oakland and San Jose.
Anderson has sued all 11 dioceses in California on behalf of Tom Emens, 50, who has said he was 10 years old when a priest who died in 2002 repeatedly molested him. Earlier this month, he released a separate 120-page report on clerical sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles that named more than 300 alleged clerical offenders.
Anderson said at a news conference Tuesday that the new names were culled from publicly available documents. He said he believed the bishops had the names of other sexually abusive priests whom “they have not told the public about, that they have not told the public about.”
“There is a culture of secrecy, and every single bishop in California has made a conscious choice to keep the names that they know to be criminals, who are sexual predators,” he said.
Emens claimed the priests in the report were just the tip of the iceberg.
“What happened to me should not happen to any child,” he said.
The report is billed as a “chronology and analysis of the rampant sexual abuse of children with the Bay Area including a discussion of how the highest Church officials enabled the abusers and covered up their crimes.”
“Perhaps most shocking among the discoveries is that some perpetrators were intentionally transferred and retained in trusted positions with direct access to children even when they were known to be abusers,” it says.
Mike Brown, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, cast doubt on the report, saying in an interview that “we cant tell how it was put together or from what sources or the criteria that were used.”
“These are very important points,” he said, adding that Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been “spending a lot of time out in parishes talking to people” and that “he’ll be making decisions very soon about how the archdiocese will publicly address this information.”
Helen Osman, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Oakland, referred a reporter to a statement the diocese released early this month announcing that it is reviewing its files and plans to release its own list of credibly accused clergy after Thanksgiving.
“We are not going to divert our resources from this work to respond to Mr. Anderson’s list,” Osman said.
The Diocese of San Jose said it would release a statement Wednesday.
When Anderson filed his suit this month, the California Catholic Conference said that none of the information was new and that nothing in the suit “describes the positive steps taken by California dioceses over the past 15 years to protect children and young people from abuse.”
Emens has called on Cordileone of San Francisco, Bishop Joseph McGrath of San Jose and Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland to release the names of all clergymen who have been accused of sexual misconduct in their dioceses.
Cordileone is an outspoken supporter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, who caused a stir in August by releasing an 11-page letter in which he claimed that Pope Francis knew about sex abuse allegations against disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., but failed to oust him right away.
Francis at the time told reporters that he had read the Viganò’s statement but that he wouldn’t comment on it, adding that the text “speaks for itself.”
McCarrick, one of the highest-ranking Americans to have been removed from public ministry because of sex abuse allegations, resigned from the College of Cardinals in the Vatican in July.