Catholic diocese adds names to list of priests suspected of abuses | Arkansas Blog

Friday, February 8, 2019

Catholic diocese adds names to list of priests suspected of abuses

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 10:31 AM

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Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock has issued additional findings from a review of files of clergy and updated the diocese's disclosure of cases of suspected sexual abuse.

The bishop said an outside firm, Kinsale Management Consulting, had completed its review of files of 1,350 clergy and others.  Bottom line: There were no new names added to the previously released list of 12 with credible allegations of substantiated abuse as Little Rock diocesan priests. But he said in a letter:

2. Additional Diocese of Little Rock priests against whom unsubstantiated though credible allegations of abuse of a minor have been received:

· Walter Rajmund. Died 1990. Served in Arkansas 1956-1990. 2 known victims.

3. Additional priests of other dioceses or members of religious orders, against whom credible allegations were made within Arkansas as confirmed by other dioceses or religious orders:

· Bill Wright, GHM. Died 2011. Served at Holy Cross Church in Crossett, Arkansas, 1982-1986.

4. Additional priests of other dioceses or religious orders who have served in Arkansas, against whom credible allegations outside of Arkansas have been confirmed by other dioceses or religious orders: Information regarding these priests can be found on the Diocese of Little Rock website.

Thomas Benkhe, OCD; Gabriel Hentrich, OCD; Albert Holmes, GHM; Kevin McCarthy; Bede Mitchell, OSB; Patrick J. L. Nicholson; Vance Thorne, SVD.

5. In addition to the above names, I must address the public allegations involving Ralph Esposito, a diocesan priest in Pittsburgh 1967-1978 and in Arkansas 1978-2002. He appears on a list of 17 priests named in a 2007 group settlement of a lawsuit between 32 people and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, a settlement in which he was not consulted or involved. His case is listed as involving a “John Doe” accuser and based on his time in Pittsburgh, about which we have no further information.

Significantly, Fr. Esposito does not appear in the list of 300+ priests named in last year’s Pennsylvania grand jury report, nor does he appear on the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s public list of those credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Although there have been concerns expressed about boundary violations with minors during his time here in Arkansas, at this time none of these seem to rise to the level of child sexual abuse. He retired in 2002, returned to Pennsylvania in 2005, and has not engaged in any priestly ministry since then.

Although to date the diocese has not paid any money to settle legal claims related to the priests included in our Clergy Disclosure List, since 2002 the diocese has spent approximately $205,000 out of the diocesan insurance fund providing counseling and other assistance to persons alleging child sexual abuse by a priest, even including some cases in which the allegations were unverifiable but where the person was nevertheless in obvious need of help. We have tried to be as generous as possible in providing this help, always giving the person the benefit of the doubt.

Taylor again asked those who've been abused or know people who've been abused to call the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline and get in touch with the diocese, such as a victims assistance coordinator at 501-664-0340, ext. 425.

There's more information on the diocese website.

The disclosures are part of releases nationwide by most Catholic dioceses about abuse allegations, long kept under wraps by the church. This week, the pope acknowledged that sexual abuse of nuns by priests had also occurred.

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