According to the Los Angeles Times, the Las Vegas Catholic Diocese on Friday released the names of 32 clergy members and one volunteer it said were credibly accused of child sexual abuse and who had served in Nevada within the last several decades.
Bishop George Leo Thomas, who opened the broad investigation after becoming head of the diocese in 2018, said the “church has been in secrecy and denial for a very long time.”
The Las Vegas Diocese said of the 33 people listed, 21 are dead and the remainder had been removed from their positions, most before the investigation began.
A volunteer on the list was removed from his post just this year. The former priest had been accused multiple times of abuse in dioceses in other states, and the Diocese of Gary, Ind., showed he’d been removed from the clerical ranks in July 2006.
Thomas said all the information gathered on the accused had been turned over to law enforcement.
The Las Vegas release comes on the heels of another by the Catholic Diocese of Reno that listed 12 clergy members it said were credibly accused of sexually abusing children. The 12 named from Reno are also included in the Las Vegas list.
The Las Vegas Diocese does not know how many victims in total were abused by the clergy members, Thomas said, adding that would be the second part of the process. He did say that since 1995, the diocese has paid out between $14 million and $15 million in settlement claims, counseling costs and attorney fees.
Larson, who lives in Salt Lake City and works with victims throughout several Western states, said the naming of priests is crucial to give validation to the experiences of victims.
In Las Vegas, investigators for the diocese started work eight months ago and combed through records going back decades to look for and evaluate accusations. Some of those listed, including the volunteer removed this year, were accused of sexually abusing minors in dioceses in other states but not in Nevada.
The release of the names is part of the Catholic Church’s continued struggle with abuse that went on for decades and remained largely unreported until it exploded with reports of abuse by clergy members in Boston under then-Bishop Cardinal Law.
Just last month, Catholic Church officials in Poland released information showing there were more than 380 clergy who had abused in excess of 600 victims dating back to 1990.
And in December, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles added 54 names to the list of more than 200 clergy members who had been accused of sexual misconduct with children going back decades.
The Las Vegas Diocese spans five counties and consists of 28 parishes with 87 priests. The Reno Diocese also has 28 parishes and has 70 priests covering northern Nevada. Before 1995, there was only one diocese covering the state.
“The Catholic Church systematically covered up the abuse of countless children by hundreds of predator priests for decades. The extent of the cover-ups is staggering. Bolder steps must be taken to protect the vulnerable,” said Jeff Herman, a nationally recognized sex abuse attorney and children’s advocate.