It was the third clergy sex-abuse list to be released by a Catholic bishop in Louisiana. And it was by far the most transparent.
In a notable departure from his counterparts in New Orleans and Houma, Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca on Thursday made public — in most cases — the number of victims that each clergy member is alleged to have molested and where the abuse occurred.
The list released by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond on Nov. 2 did not provide that level of detail. Neither did the list put out by Houma-Thibodaux Bishop Shelton Fabre on Jan. 14.
When asked why that information was not included in Aymond's list, spokeswoman Sarah McDonald defended the completeness of his disclosure, which included names, birth dates, dates of ordination, estimated times of abuse, years when the allegations were first received, years when clergy members were removed from ministry, and pastoral assignments.
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“After appropriate consultation and thorough discussion, we did not feel it necessary to name the place or places where abuse occurred but rather make the faithful aware of all pastoral assignments,” McDonald said in a statement. “In some cases we were not sure where, or (during) what assignment, the abuse took place.”
McDonald also said the archdiocese didn’t distinguish between a single accusation or multiple allegations because “one claim of abuse of a minor is one too many, therefore, no distinction was made.”
Officials with the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
While the Baton Rouge list is the most detailed accounting given by the church in Louisiana thus far, it is less comprehensive than a number of others released in other parts of the country.
For example, a list from Wilmington, Delaware, names both diocesan priests and lay employees. One from Portland, Oregon, contains information about how officials responded — or failed to react — when presented with clergy abuse accusations.
However, those lists surfaced when the corresponding dioceses were in bankruptcy proceedings.
David Clohessy, the former national director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Thursday that “more detail is always better,” and that the extra information Duca provided is vital to understanding offenders’ histories and to encouraging unidentified victims to come forward.
However, he said, to be truly transparent, bishops must include clergy abusers’ pictures and complete work histories beyond a simple list of pastoral assignments.
“It’s hard to protect your kids from predators if you don’t know what they look like or where they are,” Clohessy said.
A man once described as a "crusading priest-cop coming to the Cajuns' rescue" now stands accused of sexual abuse from his time as a priest 40 …
Most of the 37 names on Duca's list had not been previously disclosed. They included a prominent priest with ties to New Orleans: George Gensler, accused of abusing multiple victims while working at St. Anthony of Padua in Darrow in the late 1970s.
Gensler, now dead, was also a policeman in New Orleans and Lafayette, according to media reports. He additionally worked for former state Attorney General William Guste, who had a high-rise public housing development named after him in New Orleans’ Central City neighborhood.
Another of those named, James Funnel, quit his studies at New Orleans’ Notre Dame Seminary in 1979. Earlier this decade, the Baton Rouge Diocese said it received information that he had abused multiple victims while serving as a youth minister in Baker in the mid-to-late 1970s, which overlapped with his time as a student-priest.
Several priests on Duca’s list had previously been named in Aymond’s release. Those men had been stationed in parishes that were part of the Archdiocese of New Orleans but were later put under the 58-year-old Baton Rouge Diocese.
As Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca released the names Thursday of 37 clergy members who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse, a man who s…
One such man is Malcolm Strassel, who died in 1987. Strassel, who spent time at St. Agnes in Baton Rouge, served most of his career in New Orleans, attaining the prestigious title of monsignor before a 2009 lawsuit accused him of fondling a boy while at Our Lady of Lourdes in Uptown between 1969 and 1971.
The list also included a couple of priests who were among the "credibly accused" clergy disclosed in December by the Jesuit order covering a region that includes Louisiana. One is Thomas Naughton, who ran Manresa Retreat House in Convent in the 1980s. Naughton was removed from his California ministry in 2002 following accusations that he molested a boy when he was president of a Jesuit school in Dallas in 1978.
Like others nationwide, the Louisiana lists have been offered as attempts to assuage Catholics disgusted by the continued aftershocks of the U.S. clergy abuse scandal that first hit a fever pitch in Boston in 2002. The scandal boiled over again last summer, when a Pennsylvania grand jury published a report spotlighting unreported allegations of abuse by hundreds of priests.
Louisiana’s four remaining dioceses — based in Lafayette, Alexandria, Lake Charles and Shreveport — have said they plan to publish their own rosters of alleged abusers.