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Catholic Diocese of Beaumont among group to release names of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse by minors

In a bid for greater church accountability and transparency, 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas are set to release names of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.

The lists will include accused clergy in the Catholic Diocese of Beaumont and the lists will be published before Jan. 31. The diocese — it covers nine counties — was formed in 1966. Prior to that the area was under the Galveston-Houston Diocese.

Bishop Joseph Guillory of the Catholic Diocese of Beaumont said the church takes this issue seriously. He said when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops established the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002 it was meant to affect all U.S. dioceses. He said he believes the charter is working.

Since the diocese was formed, that’s how far the research through the files will go while dioceses older than Beaumont’s will go back as far as 1950.

“On Dec. 12, 2003, I addressed a major statistical study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of all dioceses in the U.S. regarding sexual abuse of minors by clergy. The statistics we reported at that time covered the time period from the diocese’s establishment in 1966 until 2002,” Guillory said in an issued statement. “Please remember, as I have said many times before, we have zero tolerance in our diocese. We investigate all allegations. And now, continuing in the spirit of complete openness and before the end of January, our dioceses will release the names of all clergy who had a credible allegation brought against them since our establishment as a diocese on Sept. 29, 1966.”

In January 2010, Guillory issued a statement on former priest Frank Paduch that said the diocese initially was unaware of complaints against Paduch that allegedly occurred in the 1980s in Chicago. A lawsuit was filed in 1997 against the Augustinian Order, according to the East Texas Catholic news publication.

The lawsuit was filed eight years after Paduch was ordained in Beaumont and the complaint was received in the Diocese of Beaumont in 2001. The investigation led to his removal from the priesthood.

In 2013, the diocese reached a settlement filed by six men who said when they were minors the Rev. Ronald Bollich sexually abused them. Bollich worked as pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Nacogdoches from 1974 to 1979; All Souls, now known as St. Mark, in Silsbee from 1979 to 1983; and St. Henry in Bridge City from 1988 to 1994. He also worked in other parishes within the diocese including some in Beaumont, Port Arthur and Groves. Early in his career he taught classes at Bishop Byrne High School in Port Arthur, according to an archived story. Settlement details were not released.

The decision to release the names was made by the 15 Catholic dioceses of Texas and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter “in the context of the ongoing work to protect children from sexual abuse and their efforts to promote healing and the restoration of trust in the church.”

In making the joint announcement Wednesday, the Texas bishops explained the effort to compile a comprehensive list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor represents a major project since there are 8.5 million Catholics and 1,320 Catholic parishes in Texas.

“It will take some time for files to be reviewed and there may be people who come forward with new information following this announcement,” Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, archbishop of San Antonio.

“In 2,000 years of the Catholic church there has been purification dealing with human beings, sinful human beings, all of us, and God, to me, is purifying His church,” Guillory said.

Guillory said he hopes that by releasing the list, if there are other victims they will come forward.

“There may be someone suffering out there and they may be strengthened by what we are trying to do,” he said. “Anybody who has been abused by clergy, or anybody who has been abused, needs to come forward.”

To report abuse by the clergy go to http://txcatholic.org/how-to-report