Attorneys, Abuse Survivors, Call on Bp. Cunningham and the New York Bishops to Release Aall Information and Histories on Every Credibly Accused Priest
(Syracuse, NY) – Today, the Diocese of Syracuse released a list of names of 57 priests with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Until today, Bishop Robert J. Cunningham has refused to release the list of names of credibly accused priests. As former Bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg and after working as Chancellor and Vicar General in the Diocese of Buffalo for nearly two decades, Bp. Cunningham stated on Saturday that he had concluded that not releasing the names had become a “roadblock” to the local Church.
“We applaud any time a diocese comes clean with long-held, dangerous secrets, yet this release is still a half measure and not the full truth,” said Attorney Jeff Anderson who represents several sexual abuse survivors in the Diocese of Syracuse and across New York. “We know, in having scrutinized the practices of Bishop Cunningham and his predecessor, that there are more names. The histories and concealment of these offenders, by the officials in the diocese, also needs to be made public. It’s time for the full truth.”
On March 14, 2018 the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates released a report detailing the names and histories of 19 priests in the Diocese of Syracuse who were accused of sexually abusing minors. One of these priests, Fr. Thomas Trane, was not included in the Diocese’s release today even though Fr. Trane was sued for sexually abusing a child from approximately 1988 to 1989 at St. Adam’s parish in Oswego, NY.
“Today’s disclosure is a vital and necessary step toward healing and accountability,” said Attorney Mike Reck of Jeff Anderson & Associates. “Now that Bishop Cunningham has finally acknowledged the need for transparency he should release a complete list of all known offenders including offender priests from other religious orders that have worked in the Diocese of Syracuse. For the survivors who have come forward and those who are still suffering in silence this is just the beginning of their healing.”
On October 30, 2018 sexual abuse survivor Paul Dunn sued the New York Catholic Conference of Bishops, including Bp. Cunningham, seeking the release of all names and histories of clergy accused of sexual abuse in all eight Catholic dioceses in New York.
“Today’s disclosure by the Diocese of Syracuse in response to my lawsuit against every diocese in the state is the first victory and an encouraging first step toward the protection of New York children,” said Dunn. “Every bit of information makes kids safer and holds the Church accountable. I hope that Bishop Cunningham, and the other bishops, will now agree to allow the information kept secret about what was and is known about these offenders to be analyzed and verified by law enforcement and attorneys.”
The Catholic bishops in New York have taken a hard line view opposing statute of limitations reform and have lobbied successfully against the Child Victims Act for more than a dozen years. This resistance to reform the laws to help sexual abuse survivors has prevented survivors from exposing offenders, thus requiring the public and parishioners to trust that the bishops are telling the full truth. Until the Child Victims Act is passed, survivors cannot know the true depth and breadth of the peril that exists both in the past and in present day.
The Report on Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Diocese of Syracuse can be found here.