This story includes a clarification and new interview.
Updated 12:13 Saturday
The shocking investigation into clergy abuse in Pennsylvania has led states and dioceses around the country to once again confront the extent of sex abuse in their own ranks. In California, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego has confirmed that it is conducting an internal file review going back more than 50 years.
After the Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed instances of sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, Kevin Eckery, spokesman for the San Diego diocese, says it plans to publish a handful of names of priests that have not before been made public on the dioceses' web site. Eckery says most of the data on this has been public for years, listed on the watchdog site Bishop-Accountability.org
The review is looking for names of priests — not yet made public — who have faced accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor, deemed credible by the San Diego diocese.
The list will include the names, status (e.g., retired) and the parishes where the priests served. These names will be in addition to the 46 names already made public from the San Diego diocese on the online internet archive and watchdog group Bishop-Accountability.org
According to Terence McKiernan, the founder of Bishop-Accountability.org, his site also includes a page with a larger number of priests -- 60 -- based on the San Diego diocese' own 2004 count of 42 priests with substantiated claims, 4 that were found to be falsely accused in 2004, and 14 with unsubstantiated claims. McKiernan says he includes the larger number of 60 on his site, because 14 years is a long time ago. He says new information may have come to light, and new victims may have stepped forward since 2004.
In 2002, California changed the statute of limitations for reporting sexual abuse by priests. In the one year the change was in effect, hundreds of plaintiffs filed suit, eventually costing the Catholic Church in California more than $1 billion in settlements.
Some of the larger payments included from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which agreed to pay $660 million to settle claims of sexual abuse in 2007. That same year, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego agreed to pay nearly $200 million to settle similar lawsuits.
Eckery said the San Diego diocese is conducting the review because of media pressure. Eckery says most of the names to be published soon will likely be of priests who are now deceased. He adds that there are no priests currently in the San Diego ministry with active complaints against them.
He wouldn't comment on whether he knows if any other California diocese will also be conducting file reviews.