Baton Rouge Diocese releases abuse allegations

BATON ROUGE, La. (CNS) – In a show of openness, transparency and a hope for healing, Bishop Michael   Duca of Baton Rouge released Jan. 31 the names of all priests, a former bishop of the diocese, and one former seminarian “against whom there are credible allegations of sexual abuse of minors and/or vulnerable adults in the Diocese of Baton Rouge.”

It also includes the names of individuals accused of credible allegations within the territory of the Baton Rouge Diocese before it was created in 1961 that were later reported to the diocese, as well as those who served the Archdiocese of New Orleans in what is now Baton Rouge diocesan territory.

The bishop on the list is Bishop Joseph Sullivan, who guided the Baton Rouge Diocese from 1974 until his death in 1982. A Catholic high school that once bore his name was changed to St. Michael the Archangel High School in 2005 after an allegation against Bishop Sullivan became known.

“When I committed myself in the diocese to this task soon after my arrival, my first concern was and has been for the persons victimized by this abuse, who have often felt betrayed and unsupported by the church,” said Bishop Duca. “It has been my hope that this will be an important step that will help those men and women whose lives have been so deeply violated. … My prayer is that this list will be a sign of a new level of transparency.”

Based on the list released by the diocese, the prevalent cases of priests credibly accused of abuse occurred in the 1960s-1970s under Bishop Sullivan.

The bishop said the list of names had been forwarded to the East Baton Rouge district attorney’s office for review, though many of the men were deceased. The list of clergy accused of sexual abuse is available at www.diobr.org.

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