Groups urge diocese to name priests
MANCHESTER, N.H. - Activists are demanding that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester release the names of all New Hampshire priests accused of child sex abuse during the last five years, even as Attorney General Kelly Ayotte recently commended the diocese for new preventative measures.
"This has been one of the most silent dioceses in terms of public information in the US," said Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org, a nonprofit group based in Boston.
BishopAccountability held a press conference yesterday outside the diocese with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group based in Chicago. About a dozen volunteers gathered, urging the diocese to disclose the names of all accused priests, even if they haven't been charged.
Four volunteers were victims of abuse by priests, said Survivors Network director David Clohessy. One of them, Massachusetts native Peter Pollard, said he spoke to Manchester's bishop, John McCormack, about his case in 1987, when McCormack worked in the Boston diocese.
"He basically said he didn't believe me," said Pollard, whose alleged abuser, George Rosenkranz, was defrocked in 2007.
Diocese spokesman Kevin Donovan said every new allegation is reported to authorities, but naming priests before they're charged would violate internal policy.
"We do not sit on allegations," Donovan said. "But we're not going to step outside the bounds of law enforcement."
That policy puts children at risk, Doyle said. She said the diocese has reported at least 40 new abuse incidents in the last five years, and it should reveal any names of newly accused offenders to protect children.
"The diocese isn't fit to decide the credibility of these accusations," Doyle said.
Assistant Attorney General William Delker, who handles diocese reports, could not immediately confirm Doyle's figure but said his office has received 158 allegations of priestly abuse since December 2002. He said he could not immediately determine how many individual priests, teachers, or other church personnel were accused.
The state has released the names of about 60 priests implicated in abuse cases in New Hampshire during the last three decades. The state reached an agreement with the diocese in December 2002, where the diocese would submit to four annual audits and adopt any recommendations the attorney general's office made.
In a news conference last month, Ayotte said the diocese has improved its safeguards for children but still has work to do.
Her office recommended the diocese strengthen its background check and training database, improve communication between officials working to prevent abuse, and conduct its own auditing.
The state audit of the diocese that began in 2003 could end this week, unless either side requests that it continue.