SAN FRANCISCO — A law firm suing California bishops for the records of priests accused of sexual abuse released its own report Tuesday listing more than 200 clergy in the San Francisco Bay Area it says are accused of misconduct.
Minnesota-based Jeff Anderson & Associates compiled the list from lawsuits and public websites to publicize the breadth of the problem, said attorney Jeff Anderson. He accused Church leaders of keeping quiet to protect themselves and the Catholic Church, putting children at risk.
The Catholic Church is reeling from a grand jury report released in August that estimated hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children since the 1940s. The report accused senior Church officials of systematically covering up complaints.
The report released Tuesday notes that the “vast majority of the claims” have not been proven in court. Anderson’s firm first said the number of accused clergy was higher, but lowered the number because some of the accused clergy worked at more than one diocese.
Tuesday’s report lists 135 clergy members accused in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, including names, photos and background information, 95 accused in the Diocese of Oakland and 33 in the Diocese of San Jose. In San Jose, that’s more than double the 15 included in a report released last week by Bishop Patrick McGrath.
“San Jose has done something that is less than the full truth,” Anderson said, adding that bishops overall have “made a lot of promises, but we’ve seen no action and very few disclosures.”
Mike Brown, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, said Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone is conducting listening sessions. Brown said the archdiocese could release a list of names as part of a broader response in November.
“To assist the victims is the primary concern, or any victims who have not come forward. It probably would help very much to have credibly accused clergy’s names,” Brown said.
A spokeswoman for the Oakland diocese, Helen Osman, referred The Associated Press to a statement earlier this month in which Oakland Bishop Michael C. Barber said he would release the names of credibly accused clergy within 45 days.
Liz Sullivan, spokeswoman for the Diocese of San Jose, said it is “heart-breaking to see the list of so many who have betrayed and abused innocent children in these horrific ways,” and said the diocese is reviewing the names.
Anderson said his firm also plans to sue the Vatican on Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco.
He represents two clients who say they were abused by priests who plan to allege that the Vatican failed to “adequately address child sexual abuse by its priests, leaving numerous children at risk,” according to a draft of the lawsuit Anderson provided.
He filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging California bishops should also be held responsible for abusive priests. His firm released a report with the names of 307 clergy in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles it says was accused of sex abuse.
This story has been corrected to change the number of clergy involved based on revised numbers from the law firm.
Associated Press writer Paul Elias also contributed to this report.