Jesuit Provinces Release Names of Accused Abusers; Dallas Jesuit Names 11

Jesuit provinces release the names of more than 150 priests and other ministry leaders found to have "credible allegations" of sexual abuse

The president of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas says 11 men with ties to the school have been found to have "credible allegations" of abuse of a minor dating back to the 1950s.

The names on Jesuit Dallas' list comes from an internal investigation undertaken by two Roman Catholic Jesuit provinces that cover nearly half of the U.S. Those investigations uncovered "credible allegations" against more than 150 priests and other ministry leaders.

Michael Earsing, president of the Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas, sent a letter to members of the Jesuit Dallas Community about the reports, saying, "I write this to you with an overwhelming sense of personal anguish and revulsion ... I am saddened to report that the list contains 11 names with some connection to our school, mostly in the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.""

It's very alarming. I was not aware of that."

Earsing then named four men who were past members of the Jesuit Dallas community, "who were the subject of credible accusations of inappropriate conduct with a minor during their tenure here." Those men named are: Don Dickerson (1980-81), Thomas Naughton (1973-79), Claude Ory (1966-67; 1987-94), Vincent Malatesta (11981-85).

Earsing said there were seven others accused of misconduct elsewhere who were assigned to Jesuit Dallas by the New Orleans Province Office. Those men are: Claude Boudreaux (1967-73), Charles Coyle (1959-60), Tom Hidding (1982-83), Francis Landwermeyer (1958-59; 1960-61), Vincent Orlando (1968-71; 1975-79), Norman Rogge (1958-60) and Benjamin Wren (1955-58; 1962-63).

In his letter, Earsing said enhanced screening and background checks have been in place at the school for several years and that he knows of no credible report of misconduct with a minor having occurred at the school in more than two decades.

Still, it's disturbing news for parents who've watched the Catholic priest abuse scandal unfold across the country, never expecting it to hit home.

"That's been discussed but it hasn't been as close as it seems it is right now. But we'll talk about it, that's for sure," said one Jesuit Dallas parent who only gave his first name, David.

U.S. Representative Michael McCaul is one prominent Jesuit Dallas graduate who was a student there during the timing of some of the allegations.

Earsing is also urging anyone else who was a victim of abuse to report it, adding: "We pledge to continue providing a safe environment for every student.  That includes consistent and constant vigilance, prompt investigation and reporting."

Rep. McCaul released a statement on Friday saying, "These credible allegations against individuals associated with Jesuit Dallas are abhorrent and deeply disturbing. I was never aware of any such activity and I am heartbroken for those who had to suffer this betrayal of trust."

After learning Jesuit Dallas released a list of names Friday, Dallas Bishop Edward J. Burns said the Dallas Diocese would join other dioceses around Texas and release a comprehensive list of all accused priests on Jan. 31, 2019.

"I commend the Jesuits and other religious orders who, together with bishops in the United States, are working for truth and transparency in order to keep children and youth safe.  As announced and reported in October, the Diocese of Dallas will join the other Catholic dioceses around the state of Texas in releasing a list on January 31, 2019, of all priests credibly accused of the sexual abuse of a minor since 1950. I continue to pray for all victims and their loved ones in the Diocese of Dallas and around the world."

Jesuits U.S. Central and Southern Province, which covers 13 states, including Texas, Puerto Rico and the Central American country of Belize, released Friday the names of 42 men. It said four of the men are still members of the province but are not active in ministry and live in supervised housing.

Jesuits West, which covers 10 western states, said its internal investigation found credible allegations against 111 priests, brothers or priests in training who were connected to it dating back to 1950. No one on the list is involved in public ministry any longer, it said.

Many of the men on the two lists have died, and others have been dismissed of ordination, officials said. Most of the men on the lists were priests.

A third province that covers several Midwestern states, the Midwest Province, is due to announce its own findings on Dec. 17.

The Jesuits are a Catholic order that includes more than 16,000 men worldwide. Jesuits also operate several high schools and universities, including St. Louis University and Marquette University. Jesuits take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and many also take a vow of allegiance to the Pope.

The Jesuits have previously settled lawsuits across the country, including a $166 million settlement involving about 500 abuse claims in Oregon in 2011, which was one of the largest settlements involving clergy abuse allegations.

U.S. Central and Southern Provincial Ronald Mercier, who heads the U.S. Central and Southern Province, said the "storm" facing the Catholic church must be confronted with transparency.

"Words cannot possibly suffice to express our sorrow and shame for what occurred, our promise of prayers for healing, and our commitment to work with them," Mercier said in a statement. "Caring for these survivors -- and preventing any such future events -- must be our focus as we move forward."

Jesuits West Provincial Scott Santarosa apologized on behalf of the province.

"It is inconceivable that someone entrusted with the pastoral care of a child could be capable of something so harmful," Santarosa said in a news release. "Yet, tragically, this is a part of our Jesuit history, a legacy we cannot ignore."

Jeff Anderson, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based attorney who specializes in clergy abuse lawsuits, said publishing the lists was the "right thing to do," and it empowers victims to both come forward and move ahead in their lives.

"To a survivor who has been abused by one of these people, it helps them realize, `I'm not the only one, I'm not alone,"' Anderson said. "It can inspire them to get help, to share the secret, and to find a better way of life."

David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, urged the Jesuits to "explain exactly when each of these allegations was deemed credible. That way Catholics will know just how many months, years or decades church officials have kept these men and their crimes hidden."

Cases of sexual abuse by priests and other religious leaders have come under increased scrutiny since August, when a grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailed decades of abuse and cover-up in six dioceses. The report alleged that more than 1,000 children were abused over several years by about 300 priests.

The report led to new examinations in several dioceses, and some renewed law enforcement scrutiny.

Pope Francis has convened a summit for Feb. 21-24 at the Vatican to address ways to prevent sexual abuse.

The lists of names in both provinces were compiled internally, but both say they have hired a consulting firm to perform an independent review in the spring.

The Jesuits U.S. Central and Southern Province covers Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, southern Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma, along with Puerto Rico and Belize.

Jesuits West includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

The nation's other two Jesuit provinces, Maryland and Northeast provinces, are in the process of merging and "agree that accountability and transparency are of the utmost importance," Maryland Province spokesman Michael Gabriele said.

NBC5's Alice Barr contributed to this report.

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