SALT LAKE CITY (CNS) — By posting a complete list of priests with credible abuse allegations against them, the Salt Lake City Diocese said it “seeks to shed some light” on such claims within the diocese, “with the hope that it may further the healing process for those betrayed by men they believed they could trust.”
As of Dec. 17, the diocese has posted on its website the complete list of all 17 priests, plus one seminarian and one religious brother, against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse involving minors have been reported since 1950.
Bishop Oscar A. Solis first authorized the planned release of the names in August. Before the names could be released, a review by legal counsel was required to ensure victims were not further harmed and to be sure, all legal requirements were appropriately met. That review is now complete, the diocese said.
“The list of credible allegations is one step toward providing the transparency that will help repair at least some of the wounds left by the wrongful actions of priests who abused their sacred trust,” Bishop Solis said in a statement. “We continue to pray for the victims and their families and ask their forgiveness for our failure to protect them.”
The list reflects all credible allegations. To be deemed “credible,” the diocese said it needs sufficient evidence to verify that the alleged actions could have occurred — that “the accused and the accuser were in the same area around the time the conduct is alleged to have happened.”
A determination that an allegation is credible is not a final determination of guilt, but is grounds for further examination, it said.
The investigation of more recent allegations also has concluded, the diocese said.
Bishop Solis, in consultation with the diocese’s Protection of Children and Young People Independent Review Board, has determined that a priest named Father David R. Gaeta will retire from active ministry with no faculties for further public ministry effective Jan. 1.
The diocese received allegations of sexual misconduct by Father Gaeta involving minors. The allegations have been investigated by law enforcement. No criminal action has been filed. The priest has been on administrative leave. Ordained for the statewide diocese in 1980, he most recently was pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in American Fork.
Removal of faculties means the individual may no longer engage in public ministry, including dressing as a priest, presenting himself as a priest in good standing, performing public Masses, hearing Confessions, or conducting baptisms, marriages, or administering other sacraments.
Sexual misconduct of any kind by church personnel is an affront to human dignity and the mission of the church. The spiritual well-being of all victims, their families, and others in the community is of particular concern to the church.
Over the past 30 years, the diocese has developed and implemented a safe environment program.
The diocese has publicized standards of conduct for its priests and deacons as well as diocesan employees, volunteers, and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people.
Beginning in 1990, the diocese implemented written policies and procedures regarding reporting and handling of sexual misconduct claims. The updated policy reflects the mandates of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” first approved in 2002.
Diocesan officials urged anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay church personnel and has not yet reported to do so. The diocesan victim assistance coordinator is available to assist in making a report and can be reached at (801) 328-8641, Ext. 344.
Editor’s Note: The entire list posted by the Diocese of Salt Lake City can be found here.
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