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Names of priests accused of abuse released

March 31, 2007|From the Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego on Friday released the names of 38 priests accused of sexual abuse, following up on a pledge it made when filing for bankruptcy protection a month ago.

Diocese officials said the roster is an exhaustive account of priests facing "credible allegations," listing the dates and parishes in San Diego where the priests served and noting their current status. Plaintiffs' attorneys said the list was incomplete.

At least 20 of those on the list are dead, according to the documents. None remain in active ministry in San Diego, diocese counsel Micheal Webb said.

The list does not specify the nature or the extent of abuse claims. Some have been accused of abuse in lawsuits filed against the diocese but others have not, Webb said.

Those who are listed served in a variety of roles in parishes, schools, seminaries and hospitals throughout San Diego and San Bernardino, which was part of the San Diego Diocese until 1978.

Some have faced criminal charges of abuse, including Franklyn Becker, who spent much of his career in the Milwaukee area and was defrocked in December 2004 at the request of Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.

Criminal charges filed against Becker in 2003 accused him of molesting a 15-year-old altar boy in a San Diego parish in 1978. The charges were dismissed after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a law that allowed prosecution of decades-old abuse allegations.

Msgr. Patrick J. O'Keeffe was charged with molesting a 17-year-old parishioner in 1972 in Highland. The charges were dropped after the Supreme Court ruling.

Eleven of the identified priests served in San Diego as military chaplains or in independent orders rather than for the diocese, Webb said.

Plaintiffs' attorneys said the list omitted the names of several priests who have been named in civil complaints.

"The church, under the guise of being forthcoming regarding the abuse of hundreds of children in San Diego and San Bernardino, has not been honest with the public," attorney Andrea Leavitt said.

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