RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond on Wednesday published a list of 42 priests with “credible and substantiated” allegation of sexual abuse of a child.
The announcement comes five months after the Bishop Barry Knestout pledged to carry out an independent investigation to review church personnel files.
“For those who abuse of the clergy, I am truly, deeply sorry,” Knestout wrote in a letter that was published with the list on the diocese’s website. “I regret that you have to bear the brunt of the damage that you have suffered in the hands of the people that you trusted. I too am sorry that you have to do is the memory of that experience with you.”
Knestout said publishing the list “can help bring about healing” and “raising awareness of this tragic situation.”
The move comes as dioceses in more than two dozen states across the country have taken similar action since a grand jury report released in August claimed that more than 300 priests abused at least 1,000 children older than seven decades in Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, New Jersey’s five Roman Catholic dioceses listed more than 180 priests who are credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors over a period of several decades.
Thirteen of the 42 priests on the Richmond list are now deceased, and the rest are removed from the ministry. Six are criminally convicted.
The list relates to allegations dating from the 1950s to the most recent substantiated allegation in 1993, said Deborah Cox, a spokeswoman for the Diocese. The list does not include details about the accusations or what parishes the priests ministered in the time.
Cox said Knestout is not aware of any priests or deacons currently serving in the ministry or in any other capacity, with a credible and substantiated accusation of sexual abuse against them. Cox said that if the victims come out with accusations against the clergy in active ministry, Knestout “will respond in accordance with our commitment to addressing allegations of sexual abuse.”
One of the priests, the Rev. John P. Blankenship, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy in 1982, while the boy and his mother went to the Church of the Sacred Heart in Prince George County to do household chores. Blankenship was given supervised probation and avoided a prison sentence. He was removed from ministry in 2002 and removed from the priesthood in 2007.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in October that his office and state police are investigating possible clergy sexual abuse of children and the question of whether a municipality officials may have covered up or “supported such crimes.”
Herring set up a hotline and an online contact form for any victims to report abuse.
A spokesman of the Herring not immediately return a call seeking comment on Wednesday.
After the clergy sexual abuse crisis exploded in Boston in 2002, the AMERICAN bishops approved a series of reforms, including more stringent requirements for the reporting of allegations to the enforcement of the law. Since then, the abuse allegations have been reported in the dioceses in the whole country.