OAKLAND (KPIX) – Forty-five men were named Monday by the Oakland Diocese as being sexual predators in the church. Twenty of the men are former priests based in the Oakland Diocese, who abused at least 174 underage boys and girls.
The other twenty-five names were of brothers and other religious leaders who were based out of other places but worked or lived for a time in Oakland.
“It’s a big step forward for us in terms of transparency, in terms of keeping our children safe, in terms of healing,” said Stephen Wilcox, Chancellor of the Diocese of Oakland.
Wilcox says decisions about who should be on the list were based on criminal convictions, civil lawsuits, and an internal review panel which includes a survivor and a therapist specializing in sexual abuse treatment. The evidentiary standard they use is whether it was “more likely than not” that sexual abuse occurred.
While he did not know the number of complaints that were not deemed credible, Wilcox said the church was engaging “independent reviewer Kathleen McChesney” and eight of her associates “to do a complete review of our files and our processes and could anticipate that perhaps names will be added to the list.”
While some details are provided for the 20 priests who were based in Oakland, the list only gives the names of 25 visiting clergy who were abusers, and no other details.
“We only have information on them for the period they’re here,” Wilcox says. But the church will update the website at some point to “provide at least their assignment here so people will know where they were here.”
“The list is a lie,” said Dan McNevin, an area leader for the Survivor’s Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
“This list has been produced really more for damage control and PR and not really for transparency or for healing.”
McNevin says the California Attorney General is gathering information about church sexual abuse so various diocese in the state are releasing information in the hopes of avoiding legal action.
“They don’t want the District Attorney of Alameda County or the Attorney General or the feds to be digging through their files so they’re trying to show that they’re gonna come up with the names first,” said McNevin. “But as we’ve seen from this report they haven’t come up with all the names.”
In October of 2018, the law firm Anderson & Associates released a list of hundreds of priests alleged to have committed sexual abuse in the Bay Area.
READ LIST: Anderson & Associates
That report listed 94 priests from the Oakland Diocese – far more than the church’s list reflects.
There also may be the issue of the quality of information provided. McNevin points to James Clark who, according to the list, committed abuse from 1971 – 1973. McNevin says Clark abused boys far longer. A former Bishop at the Oakland Diocese admitted to knowing that Clark was arrested in 1963 for “oral copulation” (which was illegal at the time) with a 19-year-old. (Clark was 40.)
Clark was an associate pastor at St. Paschal parish in Oakland at the time of his arrest and around the time his probation ended, he was transferred to Corpus Cristi in Niles, California and promoted to pastor in 1965.
The list released by the diocese Monday is limited to abuse involving persons under 18 years old. The fact that Clark’s 1963 incident was with a 19-year-old may explain why it is not included in the list.
Still, subsequent civil lawsuits, including one by McLevin, allege that, once moved to Corpus Cristi, Clark sexually and mentally abused boys until 1980.
“Just listing those years – 1971 and 1973 – on the report makes it seem like it only happened twice,” says McLevin. “There are court filings, there is evidence.”
McLevin says the church’s unwillingness to include all relevant information just shows that it cannot be trusted to reveal it’s own abuses.
“The only way we’ll ever get a complete list of Oakland, San Francisco, all these places, is if a secular authority like an attorney general or a D.A. does an investigation.”
He encourages anyone with information to contact the State Attorney General Clergy Abuse portal.
In the meantime, McLevin says SNAP will be releasing the real list. “We’re gonna come up with the names. We’ll have a list by Friday and our list is gonna be complete.”