Go Erie reports:
The Catholic Diocese of Erie on Friday opened a long-locked vault of secrets and released the names of priests and lay people accused of sexually abusing minors while working in the diocese. The list is made up of 51 names — 34 priests, 21 of whom are dead, according to revised diocesan figures, and 17 lay people, two of whom are dead. The cases span from 1944 to the present.
Those on the list include the late Erie Catholic Bishop Alfred Watson, whom the diocese said had been credibly accused of failing to stop abuse that was “credibly reported to him;” and the late William P. Garvey, the former president of then-Mercyhurst College, whom the diocese said had been credibly accused of abusing minors when he was a youth basketball coach at St. John the Baptist School decades before his death.
In a reversal of diocesan policies, Bishop Lawrence Persico disclosed the names at a 10 a.m. news conference at St. Mark Catholic Center in Erie, the headquarters of the 13-county, 202,000-member diocese. Persico released the names about two weeks after the diocese issued a March 21 statement that it would make the disclosures soon. The diocese issued that statement a day after the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo released the names of 42 priests, 24 of whom are dead, accused of sexually abusing minors in that diocese.
Penn Live reports:
Bishop Lawrence Persico began the news conference by addressing victims of abuse. “I would like to express my sincere sorrow and apologies for the sexual abuse that has occurred within the church, particularly here, within the Diocese of Erie,” he said, noting that he has spoken with some victims.
“It is appalling to learn what they went through,” he said. “Abuse is traumatic enough but it is earth-shattering when it is perpetrated by someone in a position of trust.”
The move comes as a grand jury run by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office investigates how the Erie diocese, the Diocese of Harrisburg and four others in Pennsylvania have handled misconduct allegations against priests. “We don’t know when the grand jury report will be forthcoming,” Persico said, “but I am sure it will be a sobering moment for all of us