If you live or lived in one of these states, keep reading: CO, FL, LA, ME, IL, NY, PA, DC, NJ, VA, ME, KY, CT, TX, OH, WA, AZ, WI, MA, MI, WV, TN, GA, RI, IN, NH, NM, MS, NC, AL, DE. Why? Because a new list of 146 credibly accused child molesting clerics in Maryland has just come out. More than half of them also spent time in the states listed above. The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has publicly released a redacted version of an investigative report detailing sex abuse allegations against more than 150 Catholic priests and examining the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s response. The redacted findings were made public, marking a significant development in an ongoing legal battle over its release and adding to growing evidence from parishes across the country as numerous similar revelations have rocked the Catholic Church in recent years.
It’s common knowledge that Catholic bishops and religious order heads often sent proven, admitted, and credibly accused predatory priests, nuns, deacons, and monks to other states to stymie prosecution and mollify parents and ‘avoid scandal’ (a favored phrase often used by church officials in memos to one another). But we rarely see this tactic so widely used and so extensively documented. Over half of the Catholic clergy who assaulted Maryland girls and boys also worked or lived in other states. Of course, some of these clerics may STILL live outside of Maryland now. A lot of these ‘problem priests’ were sent to nearby dioceses in DC (Fr. Corbett, Fr. Lannon), Virginia (Fr. Christancho, Fr. Bostwick), Delaware (Fr. Martin), and Pennsylvania (Fr. Bradley, Fr. Brett).
But some were sent much farther afield: Louisiana (Fr. Coyle, Fr. Dean), Maine (Fr. Michaud, Fr. Mehlville), Wisconsin (Fr. Ball, Fr. Morgan), Ohio (Fr. Hammer), Alabama (Fr. Coyle), Kentucky (Fr. Rochacewicz), Georgia (Fr. Kolodziej), Illinois (Fr. Wielebski), Texas (Fr. Murphy), Indiana (Fr. Lentz), Nebraska (Fr. Wehrli), West Virginia (Fr. Cullen, Fr. Hopkins), Connecticut (Fr. Kruse, Fr. Mike), Mississippi (Fr. Dean) and Washington state (Fr. Stallings). A few were sent here to our home state of Florida (Fr. Lippold, Fr. Rochacewicz). As one might expect, a number of them got transferred to larger states like California (Fr. Sweeney, Fr. Dean, Fr. Fisher, Fr. Braun, Fr. Haight) and New York (Fr. Free, Fr. Padian, Fr. Thibault, Fr. Kelly).
Several were transferred to the Military Archdiocese as chaplains (Fr. Kenny, Fr. Whelan). One became a chaplain for a cruise line (Fr. Hiltz). To whom do we owe our gratitude for the names and details of these 146 alleged molesters? The brave victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers in Maryland that summoned the strength to call their state attorney general and share what they knew or suspected about clergy sex crimes. We hope their courage inspires others.
Let this be a reminder, to all of us, of a few important facts:
1) While it’s tempting for us to assume that most of the truth about the church’s abuse and cover-up crisis has already been exposed, that’s just not the case. Authorities in fewer than half of the states have undertaken full-scale investigations into the scandal. Much remains hidden.
2) Catholic officials don’t always provide full assignment records for predator priests, not even to law enforcement. So it’s possible, or even likely, that some of these clerics spent time in states that are NOT mentioned in the Maryland Attorney General report.
3) Even now, it’s best to be skeptical of and careful around a Catholic priest who arrives in your parish or town from another state or diocese without a clear and believable explanation as to why.
If you know Catholics or former Catholics who lived or currently reside in these states, have them to at least skim this new report. One of these child molesters may be living right now across the street from your friends or relatives.
If you have been sexually abused by a priest – or anyone else working in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland – you may have a limited time to seek justice due to the expected passage of a new law suspending the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases in Maryland temporarily. Horowitz Law is now evaluating legal claims for anyone sexually abused by a priest, brother, nun, teacher, coach, or other lay employees of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Contact us at 844-598-2376 or [email protected] to learn more.