Diocese of Richmond adds name to list of priests accused of sexually abusing minors

Diocese of Richmond names 42 priests accused of sexually abusing minors

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Catholic Diocese of Richmond has added another name to its list of priests accused of sexual abuse against minors.

The list includes both priests accused of sexual abuse in Richmond and those who served in Richmond but have allegations against them from another diocese.

After initially releasing the names of 42 priests, the Diocese learned about a credible allegation against Rev. Donald Scales, O.S.B.

“While the Richmond Diocese is unaware of any allegations of abuse against Fr. Scales here, Bishop Knestout has added his name to the list previously published on Feb. 13, 2019, in the interest of transparency and accountability," said the Diocese in a statement.

They will continue to update the list when necessary and appropriate. All of the priests listed have “credible and substantiated” sexual abuse allegations against them.

“By publishing this list, we can help bring about healing to those who have experienced abuse in the Church and heighten the awareness of this tragic situation,” Bishop of Richmond Rev. Barry C. Knestout said in a statement posted to the diocese’s website on Wednesday. “To the victims and all affected by the pain of abuse, our response will always be about what we are doing, not simply what we have done.”

The list of names includes the status of the priests from suspended to convicted to deceased along with details regarding the year of their ordination and the year they were either removed from the priesthood or died.

The information also includes answers to some frequently asked questions about the incidents.

One of those names is Father Julian Goodman, who is now removed from his position. In a previous interview, a former seminary student said Goodman abused him when he was a teenager.

"What I felt in those early years was a sense of being alone, of being the only one in the world this is happening to,” the survivor said.

Over the decades, NBC12 has uncovered accusations of others priests who were reviewed by the Catholic Church. For Father Steven Rule, his case was reviewed but he later returned to his role.

"The situation in which he, Father Rule, placed himself on the claimant was inappropriate and exceeded boundaries under the circumstances. The review board, however, did not view the behavior as warranting removal from priestly ministry,” an official said.

Since that time, Father Rule’s role has been suspended.

"Anytime that there has been an incident of clergy sexual abuse, it's urgent,” said Jeanine Harper with Stop Child Abuse Now.

She works with authorities to bring offenders to justice.

"Many times, when this happens to children or adolescents, they think it’s their fault. They think they shouldn’t have been somewhere or shouldn’t have done something and because it’s an adult, particularly an adult they respect or admire, they’re confused by it,” Harper said.

She believes the list not only helps the catholic church become more transparent, it also offers a world of hope for survivors.

"It helps validate them and lets them know it wasn’t their fault,” Harper said.

Many are calling this a major step towards accountability, but experts question how many survivors are out there whose accuser’s name never made the list.

Back in September, Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout held a message of atonement service where parishioners prayed not just for their sins, but for the sins of others, including priests who overstepped their boundaries. At that time, the bishop called for a public list of those accused and now it’s here.

Additionally, the Diocese of Arlington released the names of 16 priests accused of sexual abuse. The entire list can be viewed here.

The Diocese of Richmond urges anyone who has been sexually abused by a priest, deacon, employee or volunteer of the Diocese of Richmond to report abuse directly to law enforcement, including Child Protective Services (CPS) 1-800-552-7096, and by calling the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Hotline at 1-833-454-9064.

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