JEFFERSON CITY – Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of the Diocese of Jefferson City will release a list of 33 priests and religious brothers credibly accused and/or removed from ministry in the diocese during a media conference today at 1 p.m. at the diocese’s headquarters, 2207 West Main, Jefferson City.
The list and other information about the diocese’s response to the harm caused by sexual abuse of minors are posted on the diocesan website. Media will also be provided this information at the media conference.
The list includes three priests from other dioceses who served in the Jefferson City Diocese, five members of a religious order (priest or brother) and 25 priests from the Jefferson City Diocese. Almost half, 14, are deceased. The median year of birth of the men is 1938 and the median year of ordination for the priests is 1964.
The most recent case of physical sexual abuse occurred in 1997. Since then, two credible allegations of violations of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the US bishops’ policies for safe environment, have been made. One allegation involved the use of social media and the other concerned Internet pornography depicting minors.
“Although the incidents are in the past, the pain caused is still a present reality for the survivors of abuse and their loved ones,” Bishop McKnight said. He expressed sorrow and contrition for the pain caused by the actions of the priests and brothers “and the incomplete transparency we have lived under by not making all their names public.”
“Today there can be no secrets in our diocese,” he said. “I pledge to put the care of victims, their loved ones and their communities first and foremost. Our long standing Catholic social teachings require that we afford a preferential option for the poor; and this is most especially the case for those who have been victimized by clergy of our own Church.”
“As of today, there has not ever been a credible accusation of sexual abuse of a minor against any clergy or religious now serving in the Diocese of Jefferson City,” Bishop McKnight said.
The diocese has spent $4.7 million since July 1, 2003 on expenses related to the cases, in addition to an estimated $1.5 million from its founding in 1956 to June 30, 2003. The funds have been provided by donors “who understand our preferential option for survivors of abuse,” Bishop McKnight said, along with funds from the sale of the diocesan minor seminary, the diocese’s fund for infirm priests, other dioceses and religious orders, and insurance.
Bishop McKnight referenced the possibility that more victims may come forward. “Today we are publishing what we know,” he said. He encouraged people to report any suspected abuse or victimization by someone representing the Catholic Church to the Missouri Child Abuse & Neglect hotline (1-800-392-3738), the Missouri Adult Abuse & Neglect Hotline (1-800-392-0210), and the diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator, Nancy Hoey, at 573-694-3199 or gro.y1548278171ticff1548278171ejoid1548278171@esub1548278171atrop1548278171er1548278171.