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Springfield Diocese Publishes Expanded List Of Credibly Accused Abusers

The list of credibly accused sexual abusers in the Springfield Diocese has grown. Bishop William Byrne, who took over the diocese last year, announced the expansion Wednesday. He says the list now includes 61 individuals, up from 21. 

“It now includes diocesan clergy even if they were deceased at the time that the allegation came forward, religious order members, clergy from other dioceses and lay employees,” Byrne said. “Let me be clear. These are not new allegations. Most date back decades.”

A team led by Jeffrey Trant, the Director of the Diocese’s Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance, reviewed files compiled by a misconduct commission in the 1990s. He says the team’s work was independently reviewed. Trant says the oldest credible allegation dates to the 1940s.

“Disclosure is a critical step for seeking help and accessing services,” Trant said. “For that very reason, publishing information about credibly accused clerics and diocesan personnel provides survivors with information that may be helpful with their healing process and let others who are privately coping with their abuse know they are not alone.”

Trant says the Diocese’s previous policy for who would be included on the credibly accused list took into account the ability of the accused to respond to allegations.

“The stated policy was that a cleric had to be living at the time that the allegation came forward,” Trant said. “They also had to be a priest or a cleric of the Diocese of Springfield and there had to be a finding of credibility. The underlying principle of that old policy was that the cleric would have an opportunity to respond to the allegation.”

In response to the expanded list, Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger placed Father Jeffrey L’Arche, a priest of the LaSalette Missionaries and pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam and St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman, on administrative leave. The Springfield Diocese found credible an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, alleged to have occurred sometime between 1976 and 1981. The Albany Diocese says a subsequent investigation initiated by the LaSalette congregation found the allegation to be “highly questionable” and, therefore, not credible. As a result, L’Arche, who maintains his innocence, has an asterisk placed next to his name on the Springfield list, indicating the conflicting findings. His name, with an asterisk, has been added to Albany’s list of offenders.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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