Archdiocese of Omaha Releases Names of Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

The Archdiocese of Omaha is the latest Catholic organization to release a list of priests accused of sexual abuse. The list dates back to 1978 and names 38 church employees and volunteers, including 24 priests of the Archdiocese of Omaha. Fifteen of the clergy identified had not been previously named as child molesters.

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office requested the report from the Archdiocese in August, shortly after a Pennsylvania grand jury report estimated that hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children since the 1940s and that senior church officials there covered up the abuse.

Of the 38 clergy names submitted, the Archdiocese said 34 had offended before 2002, when the U.S. Conference of Bishops created a charter requiring U.S. dioceses to protect children from abuse.

The list of credibly accused clergy, which is available at report.archomaha.org , includes John Fiala, who left the Omaha Archdiocese in 1996. He died last year in a Texas prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a teenage boy and of trying to hire a hit man to kill the victim. Fiala was ordained by the Omaha archdiocese in 1984. The archdiocese paid an undisclosed settlement to the victim in 2011.

The list also includes defrocked Omaha priest Daniel Herek, who was sentenced to prison in 1999 for sexually assaulting and videotaping a 14-year-old boy. He also served jail time several years later for exposing himself in an Omaha parking lot.

Archbishop George Lucas released a five minute video statement recounting the Archdiocese’s efforts at accountability and transparency. While the sentiments are honorable, the message which rings a bit hollow given the long list of names and the 15 abusers only now being identified.

The Catholic Church and other institutions of public trust such as the Boy Scouts need to focus on actions rather than press releases and video statements. Their credibility is tissue-thin precisely because words don’t convince people, conduct does.

 

 

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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