Santa Rosa Diocese releases names of clergy it believes were child sex abusers

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa has released a list of 39 clergymen it says have been credibly accused or convicted of child sexual abuse, which it describes as “the evil actions of priests and bishops.”

More than half of those on the list released Saturday night — at least 23 — are deceased, and Robert Vasa, bishop of the diocese said in the North Coast Catholic newsletter that none of the priests or deacons on the list are still serving in the diocese.

The names, which include three clergymen convicted of sexual offenses, were released in the newsletter. Many of them are already well-known through public accusations, admissions or investigations. Included on the list are 14 men who were accused of child sexual abuse in other locations but did not face allegations in the Santa Rosa diocese.

The release, the latest in the Bay Area, comes amid a wave of similar disclosures across the country after a Pennsylvania grand jury report last August accused the Catholic church of a systemic cover-up of child sex abuse by diocesan leaders in that state and at the Vatican.

The Diocese of San Jose in October released the names of 15 priests the church believes to be child sexual abusers. The Oakland Diocese had planned to disclose names by Thanksgiving but pushed the release into this year. The Archdiocese of San Francisco has not announced a decision on releasing names, but officials in November said they would review 4,000-plus personnel files for any cases of abuse.

Vasa said in a statement that he was releasing the names “to give all victims of clerical sexual abuse the assurance that they have been heard and that the church is very much concerned for their well-being and healing.”

The document offers scant details, if any, of what each man has been accused of and when and how it occurred. Vasa said that’s because many of the cases are decades old. The list includes information on each suspected abuser’s status but in five cases it was not known if they were working as priests.

The list can be found in a release from the diocese, prefaced by a statement from Vasa, or in the North Coast Catholic newsletter.

Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Twitter: @ctuan

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