Richmond diocese adds 6 priests to list of accused abusers
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Six priests have been added to a list of clergy who are accused of sexual abuse against a minor, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced on Thursday.
Five them are no longer living, and officials say they don’t know where the sixth is.
The additions come four months after Bishop Barry Knestout publicly named 42 priests who had a “credible and substantiated” allegation of sexual abuse of a child. Dioceses in more than two dozen states around the country took similar action following the August release of a grand jury report that alleged more than 300 priests abused at least 1,000 children over seven decades in Pennsylvania.
Victim advocates had said they believed the original list from the Richmond diocese was incomplete, and they doubted whether the diocese was committed to transparency, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
“Back in February, when we published a list of clergy against whom there are credible and substantiated claims of child sexual abuse, we acknowledged the list would be updated,” Knestout said in a news release.
“As we continue to engage with survivors of abuse and learn more about the history of our diocese, we continue our commitment to transparency. It is my sincere hope that the additions of these individuals will help provide healing for anyone who suffered at their hands,” he said.
Of the original 42 listed, 13 are dead and six have been criminally convicted. Among those convicted is the Rev. John P. Blankenship, who pleaded guilty in 2002 to sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in 1982 while the boy and his mother went to the Church of the Sacred Heart in Prince George County to do housekeeping chores.
Blankenship was given supervised probation and avoided a prison sentence. He was removed from the ministry in 2002 and dismissed from the priesthood in 2007.
The original list covers allegations dating from the 1950s to the most recent substantiated allegation in 1993, Deborah Cox, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said in February.
Knestout also announced Thursday that institutions run by the diocese will no longer name buildings after a pastor, founder or individual in order to be sensitive to abuse survivors.
Information from: Richmond Times-Dispatch, http://www.richmond.com