The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis is preparing its priests for the release of a list of 29 priests who it says have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.
The accused priests have served at nearly half -- 92 of the 188 -- of the parishes in the archdiocese, according to an email sent to priests today by Vicar General Charles Lachowitzer, the archbishop's top deputy.
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The archdiocese plans to release the names on its website Thursday. It will also release each priest's birth year, ordination year, parish assignment history, current status and city of residence. For the deceased priests, it will also provide the year of death. The planned disclosure comes after Ramsey County Judge John Van de North ordered the archdiocese on Monday to release the names of all priests with credible allegations of child sexual abuse who had been included on a sealed list by Dec. 17. The 33 names were disclosed to attorneys in a 2009 clergy sexual abuse lawsuit, but a judge had ordered they remain private.
A spokesman for the archdiocese said the list will not include four of the 33 names. Three of the priests have allegations against them that church officials believe to be unsubstantiated, Tom Wieser, an attorney for the archdiocese, said Monday. The other priest's name is not being released because there is no record that he served in the archdiocese, Wieser said.
Nine of the priests on the list are deceased and seven are not from this archdiocese, Wieser said.
Attorneys for victims of clergy sexual abuse have argued for years that the public is at risk as long as the names remain secret. Archdiocesan officials have refused to release the list in the past, but changed their position in response to an MPR News investigation that found church officials protected a priest who admitted to sexually abusing boys on an American Indian reservation in the 1970s and did not tell police or the public.
Van de North has also ordered the Diocese of Winona to release a similar list of 13 priests by Dec. 17. Both dioceses will also have to release the names of priests accused since 2004, the year the list was created, by Jan. 6.