Amid Lawsuit, Firm Publishes List of California Priests Accused of Abuse

More than 200 priests from the San Francisco Bay area are on the list. At least one California diocese has questioned the sources for the list.

The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, San Francisco
The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, San Francisco (photo: Slyvain.collet via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) via CNA)

SAN FRANCISCO — A Minnesota-based law firm released a report Tuesday compiling the names of more than 200 priests from the San Francisco Bay area it says have been publicly accused of sexual abuse. At least one California diocese has questioned the sources for the list.

The law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates filed a lawsuit Oct. 1 against all of California’s dioceses, along with the California Catholic Conference and the Archdiocese of Chicago, alleging a sexual-abuse cover-up.  

The Oct. 23 report lists the names and parish assignments of 212 priests from the San Francisco Bay area. The report says it is an effort to compile “information already available to the public from various sources in the public media” and to raise awareness of the issue of clerical sexual abuse.

“The vast majority of the claims against these individuals have been settled or have not been fully evaluated in a civil court,” the report reads.

“Accordingly, the allegations should be considered just allegations and should not be considered proved or substantiated in a court of law. All individuals should be considered innocent until proven guilty.”

The statute of limitations for trying the alleged crimes has passed in some cases, the report notes.

Mike Brown, spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said although the diocese plans to take the accusations in the report very seriously, he said it is not entirely clear what sources and criteria Jeff Anderson & Associates used to compile their list.

“[Jeff Anderson’s] already taken some names off his list since two days ago,” Brown said.

He said the diocese is in the process of reviewing its files, but cannot announce when or if the diocese will release its own list of accused clergy.

The law firm said that information on the accused came from publicly available documents, such as lawsuits, diocesan statements and the website, a Massachusetts based nonprofit that tracks allegations of sexual abuse.

The law firm’s report lists the names of 95 priests in Oakland, 135 in Los Angeles and 33 in San Jose, although 51 of the names are duplicates because those priests operated in more than one diocese over the years.

The Diocese of San Jose released a list of accused priests Oct. 18 that included 15 names. The disclosure revealed that at least two priests returned to ministry after being convicted of sexual abuse, but they were both later banned from ministry.

The San Jose Diocese said Tuesday that it was reviewing the 18 additional names put forth and would publicly comment, but no response was received by CNA’s press time.  But an Oct. 24 Mercury News report that was updated early on Oct. 25 stated, “The San Jose Diocese defended its initial report of 15 bad priests, countering that the extra 18 listed by a Minnesota law firm were either not connected to the diocese or, in three cases, were sent here without warning.”

Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland said Oct. 7 that his diocese plans to release a list of publicly accused clergy within 45 days.