The Roman Diocese of Cleveland announced plans to release a list of priests who were removed from their posts because of allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct. Cleveland is Ohio’s largest diocese, and the fourth in the state to announce such a move.
Since 2002, the Cleveland diocese has published the names of priests placed on leave or removed due to misconduct allegations, and so far their website includes 29 names.
The diocese announced Tuesday it will publish the names of accused priests both living and dead, and the new names will go back as far as records permit.
"It would be wrong to suggest that the Diocese of Cleveland has not committed to release the names of clerics accused of sexually abusing a minor or that it desires to keep secret the names of such clerics," said diocesan spokesman Jim Armstrong.
According to the diocese, two-thirds of the alleged incidents occurred between the 1960-70s, but most reports were made during the 2000s.
The disclosures follow in the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury report that revealed 300 priests alleged to have molested over 1,000 children. Bishops in Ohio have called for a similar investigation.
Last week, the Diocese of Columbus told WOSU that it would make public the names of removed priests “within the next few months.” The diocese of Youngstown and Steubenville announced their plans earlier last month.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati already publishes a list of priests removed for child abuse allegations, currently listing 14 priests removed since 1998.
The Diocese of Toledo reported accusations against 46 priests since 1950, but does not name several who it says were cleared after an investigation.
The Cleveland diocese is Ohio's largest at nearly 700,000 members. It provided Cuyahoga County prosecutors all relevant files during a grand jury investigation similar to Pennsylvania's in 2002, Armstrong said. But unlike Pennsylvania's, prosecutors in Cleveland never produced a report about the grand jury's findings.
In a 2003 court decision denying a request to release the records presented to the grand jury, a Cuyahoga County said that prosecutors had identified more than 1,000 possible victims of sexual abuse and 496 possible offenders, including 143 priests. Sixty four of the priests were living in the Cleveland area at the time.
Also this week, a Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut announced it has chosen a retired state judge to lead an investigation into sexual abuse of children by priests.