The Catholic Diocese of Yakima has created a website identifying priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor during their ministries in Central Washington.
Monsignor Robert Siler, chancellor with the Diocese of Yakima, announced the website in an email to media shortly before noon Wednesday.
“Bishop Joseph Tyson, after thorough consultation and upon the recommendation of the Yakima Diocese Lay Advisory Board, has established a website listing the names of priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor during their time of ministry within the Diocese of Yakima,” Siler said in the email.
“The decision is based on the bishop’s desire for transparency and to encourage victims of abuse to come forward,” he said.
Members of the advisory board, which investigates allegations of sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Yakima, recommended that Tyson post the names of clergy facing credible allegations of abuse, Siler said in late March.
Tyson, who had the final say, was open to it, Siler said then.
Members of the Yakima Diocese advisory board have been discussing the issue for some time. They are chair Russ Mazzola, a Yakima attorney; Jorge Torres, a psychologist; Tom Dittmar, who has a background in law enforcement; Dr. Mark Maiocco, a physician; Monsignor John Ecker, pastor at St. Paul Cathedral; and Elizabeth Torres, an environmental health-project coordinator.
The two other dioceses in Washington, Seattle and Spokane, publish names of cleric sex abusers on their websites. The Archdiocese of Seattle posted a list of 77 names of offending priests in January 2016, and several more names have since been added.
After declaring bankruptcy in 2004, the Spokane Diocese agreed to post 30 names of accused clergy as part of its bankruptcy agreement.
The Yakima Diocese list contains the names of 21 clergy.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the list is “a good first step from church officials in Yakima,” but more needs to be done.
“The list put out by the Diocese of Yakima is a start, yet it lacks critical information, such as information regarding when the allegations were first received by the diocese and what steps were taken in response to those allegations,” the statement said. “Such data is critical to understanding what went wrong in the past, who was involved in the wrongdoing, and what must be done to prevent cases of abuse in the future.”
SNAP is hopeful the list will be updated as more information becomes available. It is notable that church officials in Yakima took the unusual route of creating a separate and unlisted website for the list, the group said in its statement.
“While the list is currently mentioned on the homepage of the diocese, we cannot help but wonder if the list will be permanently published on the diocesan website or if it will disappear in the days following this announcement,” the statement said. “We hope certainly hope that will not be the case.”