List of Accused Abusive Bishops in the US is Growing

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2023 | Firm News

US Roman Catholic Bishops Sex Abuse Horowitz Law

What do these US bishops have in common? 

The list of Roman Catholic Priests continues to grow exponentially in the US. Each of the above bishops was accused of sexual abuse but ‘cleared’ by a church official or panel (or the allegation was deemed unsubstantiated by a church official or panel). Of course, not every bishop accused of abuse is ‘cleared’ by fellow church officials. Several of them, including Palm Beach, Florida Bishop Anthony O’Connell, and New York Bishop James Francis McCarthy, admitted abusing teens or adults. In 2020, a would-be bishop, Fr. Michel J. Mulloy, who the Vatican tapped to lead the Duluth Diocese, withdrew when an abuse allegation against him was made public.

Several US prelates have been deemed guilty of covering up abuse, not perpetrating it, notably Kansas City, Missouri Bishop Robert Finn and St. Paul, Minnesota Archbishop John Neinstedt. In fact, last month, updated its list of allegedly predatory prelates. The group “has now identified nearly 100 Catholic bishops worldwide accused publicly of sexual crimes against children and more than 40 Catholic bishops worldwide who have been accused publicly of sexual wrongdoing against adults only.”

Think about that for a minute. These men are often called ‘princes of the church.’ They hire diocesan lawyers, diocesan public relations staffers, and diocesan ‘victims assistance’ personnel and pick diocesan abuse review panel members. They are the ones who can suspend, with the snap of their fingers, an accused nun, brother, priest, seminarian, or monk. And they are the ones who can shred documents, intimidate victims, deceive parishioners, stonewall prosecutors, quietly move abusers, or order their underlings to take these or similarly callous and reckless secretive actions. They have immense power. And dozens of them are accused of being child molesters and adult abusers. notes that “Despite the extensive harm done by abusive church leaders, few have been severely disciplined.” Only seven abusive bishops have been defrocked or laicized. They are Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez of Paraguay (2008), Raymond J. Lahey of Canada (2012), Gabino Miranda Melgarejo of Peru (2013), Jósef Wesołowski of Poland (2014), Francisco José Cox Huneeus of Chile (2018), Marco Antonio Órdenes Fernández of Chile (2018), and Theodore McCarrick of the United States (2019).

We at Horowitz Law know of only one predatory child-molesting US bishop who has been defrocked: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Even prelates found guilty under canon law “have been allowed to retain the title of bishop and to be called emeritus, a status that confers continued prestige and power,” according to Here are some of the accused US abuser prelates whose cases are unresolved: Bishop Juan Arzube of Los Angeles, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, Bishop Joseph Ferrario of Honolulu, Hawaii, Bishop Leonard Cowley of St. Paul, Bishop Louis Gelineau of Providence, Bishop Timothy Harrington of Worcester Massachusetts, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros of Boston, Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien of Phoenix, Bishop James Rausch of Phoenix, Bishop George Rueger of Worcester, Archbishop Robert Sanchez of Santa Fe, Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell of Detroit, Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Bishop Austin Vaughan of New York, Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee and Bishop Patrick Ziemann of Los Angeles. 

Here are some of the accused US abuser prelates against who abuse allegations have been deemed at least credibly accused by church officials: Bishop Gordon Bennett of Baltimore, Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, Bishop Joseph Denning of Brooklyn, Bishop Harold Dimmerling of Rapid City, Bishop Carroll Dozier of Memphis, Bishop Thomas Dupre of Springfield Massachusetts, Bishop Carl Fisher Jr. of Los Angeles, Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne Bishop John Jenik of New York, Bishop Thomas Lyons of Washington, Bishop Eugene Marino of Atlanta, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of New York, Bishop Daniel Ryan of Springfield Illinois, Bishop Alexander Salazar of Los Angeles, Bishop James Sullivan of Lansing, Bishop Lawrence Soens of Sioux City, Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan of Baton Rouge, Bishop Kendrick Williams of Lexington, Bishop Lawrence Welsh of Spokane and Bishop Christopher Weldon of Springfield Massachusetts.

Finally, here are some of the accused abusive US prelates who face pending civil lawsuits charging abuse: Bishop Joseph Estabrook of Albany, New York, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, pending suit: Bishop Edward Grosz of Buffalo, New York, Bishop Guy Sansaricq of Brooklyn New York, Bishop Joseph Michael Sullivan of Brooklyn New York, Bishop Peter Gerety of Portland Maine. As best we can tell, just one accused abusive US prelate is facing pending criminal charges: McCarrick. We must all remember: a child molesting cleric can be a young, just-ordained priest or an elderly, high-ranking clergyman. And regardless of his position on the clerical career ladder – high or low – if he has or may be sexually violating youngsters, he should be reported – first and foremost – to the experienced professionals in law enforcement.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or email sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected]. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.