Dioceses won’t name sex offenders
WHEELING — The Roman Catholic dioceses of Wheeling-Charleston and Steubenville don’t plan to issue any lists of alleged sexual offenders as dioceses in neighboring states have done in recent weeks.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, New York, released lists of clergy and laity identified as being sexual abusers. The lists contained the names of living and deceased subjects.
But that won’t happen here, church officials have said.
“The diocese does not currently have any plan to do what the Diocese of Erie is doing,” said Tim Bishop, a spokesman for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
Dino Orsatti, director of communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, also said that diocese isn’t planning to issue a list of alleged sexual offenders. Still, it won’t hide any allegations.
“We will always release any information,” said Orsatti. “If something happens, it won’t be covered up.”
For example, Orsatti said Friday’s edition of the diocesan newspaper included an article about a Pittsburgh deacon who has been arrested on sexual-related charges and noted the man taught in Steubenville for a short time over 40 years ago.
The Steubenville Register article stated that Rosendo “Ross” F. Dacal, a permanent deacon of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, was arrested April 10 on charges he sent sexually explicit messages and photos to a police officer posing online as a teenage boy. Dacal’s arraignment is scheduled May 24 in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
According to a press release from the Pittsburgh diocese, Dacal immediately was placed on administrative leave and suspended from active ministry upon his arrest.
Orsatti said the late Most Rev. John King Mussio, Steubenville’s first bishop, was Dacal’s guardian throughout his high school years. He also said Dacal taught Spanish at Steubenville Catholic Central High School from 1969-74.
To date, no complaints have been made against Dacal related to his time in Steubenville, Orsatti said. The home page of the diocese’s website contains information for any victims to report incidents of harm, he said.
Meanwhile, Bishop said the Wheeling-Charleston diocese is in full compliance with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Safe Environments regulations concerning the reporting and handling of cases of suspected sexual abuse. The diocese covers all Catholic parishes and missions in West Virginia.
Bishop said the diocese is audited every year by the Office of Safe Environments and “has passed every audit.”
Under the Office of Safe Environments’ guidelines, the diocese follows a series of steps when sexual abuse is suspected.
“The first time there is a credible allegation, we report it to the authorities and we’re done until that process is complete,” said Bishop.
Earlier this month, the Diocese of Erie published a list of 34 priests and 17 lay people against whom credible accusations of sexual abuse or other inappropriate behavior have been leveled. It was the first time the Erie diocese revealed the names of those accused of abuse.
A grand jury, led by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, is investigating how the Erie diocese and five other dioceses in Pennsylvania have handled misconduct allegations against priests.
In March, the Diocese of Buffalo released the names of 42 priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Reportedly, the action was taken as part of the diocese’s promise to be more transparent.
According to Spectrum News in Buffalo, the Diocese of Buffalo’s list was issued a week after a national law firm representing victims released 13 names from the diocese. Some of the names on the diocese’s list overlap with priests named in the law firm’s report.