West Virginia Diocese Publishes List of Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

Many of them have died, and none are now in active service

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of West Virginia released the names of clergy who are accused of multiple child sexual abuse crimes. Some cases date back to the 1950s. According to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, among the 18 clergy members mentioned in the list, 11 of them have died. No one in the list is actively ministering to constituents.

As per the West Virginia Roman Catholic archdiocese, the public release of names pertains to the 2002 U.S. bishops’ approved "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People." The move is in accordance with the policy adopted by the diocese on matters of sexual abuse since 1985. This list starts from 1950, the year when the church started to hold reasonably reliable files. Over 2,000 files were put under the scanner, with investigators trawling through the thousands of documents within. The release of such information is part of the commitment of Wheeling-Charleston Diocese to transparency along with giving aid to the reconciliation process and healing the West Virginia faithful community.

William Lori, the Archbishop of Baltimore, and the diocese's apostolic administrator, said his diocese hopes the release of such a list will be one of the multiple steps to restore trust with not only the parishioners but also with the greater West Virginia community. He said it is hoped people will view the release of such a list as an active sign of the diocese's good faith towards transparency and accountability and a clear indication of the diocese providing a better environment both for adults and children. He continued in this vein, saying that as the diocese prays for all sexual abuse victims, it has also committed itself to do everything which can be done to make sure everyone who is entrusted to its care remains protected.

Other the 18 accused clergy members from the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese, the list also contained 13 priests from other dioceses who have credible charges against them. The latter list includes a few who have served West Virginia diocese but against those no claims were documented.

The list included short descriptions of the varied accusations inclusive of solicitation, abuse, or inappropriate touching. One noted accused priest is the Reverend Felix Owino, who was subsequently deported to his home nation in Africa after he was convicted in 2010 of aggravated sexual battery. The victim was a girl when the accused served as the associate pastor at a  Weirton-located Catholic Church.

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