Salt Lake City diocese releases list of priests credibly accused of abuse

Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.
Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, Utah. Credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.

.- Following suit with many other Catholic dioceses throughout the United States in recent months, the Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah has released a list of all priests credibly accused of sexual abuse involving minors since 1950.

Of the 19 men on the list, 17 were priests at the time the alleged abuses occurred. Of the two remaining, one was a seminarian at the time of alleged abuse, and the other a religious brother.

“The list of credible allegations is one step toward providing the transparency that will help repair at least some of the wounds left by the wrongful actions of priests who have abused their sacred trust,” Bishop Oscar A. Solis of Salt Lake said in a statement reported by The Salt Lake Tribune.

“We continue to pray for the victims and their families and ask their forgiveness for our failure to protect them,” he added. The Diocese of Salt Lake City covers the entire state of Utah, and is home to more than 300,000 Catholics.

According to KSL News, the diocese said that it considered credible those allegations for which there was “sufficient evidence” to verify that the abuse may have occurred “such as the accused and the accuser being in the same area around the time the conduct is alleged to have happened.”

The diocese told KSL that a credible allegation is not the same as a guilty verdict, but does call for further investigation.

One priest on the list, Father David R. Gaeta, faced three accusations this year - two from the 1980s, and one from 2018.

In June of this year, Gaeta was accused of lying in bed with a minor in 1982.

In August of this year, a separate accusation was filed with the diocese against Gaeta, accusing him of offering alcohol to four minors and suggesting that they undress, also in 1982. In July of this year, Gaeta was accused of touching a child’s buttocks while pushing a swing. The case was civilly investigated, but no criminal charges were filed.

Gaeta has been placed on leave since August, and this week the diocese announced that Gaeta will retire “without faculties” on Jan. 1, meaning he will be unable to publicly present himself as a priest or publicly celebrate the sacraments.

Of the men on the list, eight are deceased - seven priests and the religious brother. Of the men who are still alive, 10 were either laicized, retired without faculties, or left the priesthood. The seminarian accused of abuse was dismissed from seminary. According to the list, no active priests credibly accused of abuse remain in active ministry in the diocese.

One of the accused men, James Rapp, was laicized and is in prison in Oklahoma. He was accused of sexually abusing four minors in Utah, and was imprisoned for abuse of minors outside of Utah. While the majority of the alleged abuses occurred prior to 2002, when the U.S. Bishops issued the Charter for Child and Youth Protection, many accusations came to light during or after that year.

In a statement on their website, the Diocese of Salt Lake said that an independent committee of lay people will review the diocese’s internal files and verify the accuracy of the information on the list. If needed, the diocese said it will update the list and publicly release any additional information provided by the lay committee.

The diocese added that it is “committed to ensuring the health and safety of young people within its community. Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay Church personnel and has not yet reported the incident is encouraged to do so.”

The full report can be found on the diocesan website.

Tags: Catholic News, Clerical sex abuse, Diocese of Salt Lake City