Diocese of Rockford releases names of priests accused of sexual abuse

Rockford RegistarStar, Illinois/November 14, 2018

By Corina Curry and Keith Haas

Rockford -- The Diocese of Rockford has released the names of priests and other clergy members connected to the diocese accused of sexual abuse over the past century.

Fifteen names appear on the list, covering a span from 1908 to today. The names were released Wednesday, accompanied by a letter from Bishop David Malloy. Read the letter and view the full list below.

“As faithful Catholics, we have experienced hurt and grief and indignation, the natural consequences of the horrendous sexual abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic Church,” Malloy said in the letter. “I have heard and shared your anger.”

The list of priests of the diocese, deacons, and priests or brothers from elsewhere who worked within the diocese, spans 11 counties in northwestern Illinois including Boone, Winnebago, Ogle and Stephenson counties. The diocese referred to the list as clergy members “against whom substantiated allegations of childhood sexual abuse have been reported.”

Six Diocese of Rockford priests, one deacon, and eight priests or brothers from outside the diocese whose work brought them to the diocese, or who were assigned to the diocese at some time, appear on the list.

The six diocesan priests named are Mark A. Campobello, Harlan B. Clapsaddle, Thomas Considine, John C. Holdren, William I. Joffe and Joseph J.M. Tully. None actively work in diocese, having died or been removed from ministry.

“Publishing this list does not ameliorate the criminal acts of abusers,” Malloy said in the letter. “Our continued prayer is that victims of these priests find some bit of peace in seeing this list, and that all victims of sexual abuse find the courage to come forward and know that assistance is available to them.”

Wednesday’s letter comes on the heels of similar public disclosures by Catholic dioceses across the country in recent months.

Releasing the list is only a first step, said Zach Hiner, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. Now, the diocese should invite an independent investigation by law enforcement.

“If the diocese truly believes this list is complete and wants to do everything that they can ... they should actively invite such an investigation,” Hiner said. “It’s only from a truly independent outside investigation that these type of things come to light.”

SNAP has urged state attorneys general across the country to launch independent investigations into clergy abuse. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in August that she was contacting six Catholic dioceses in Illinois and requesting a review of all records about sexual assault.

That move came on the heels of a scathing grand jury report issued in Pennsylvania that detailed the cover-up of child sex abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years. Since that grand jury report, 19 other states and Washington, D.C., have begun investigations of their own, Hiner said.

“That’s an absolute watershed moment for this movement and I think it’s energizing,” he said.

For survivors of clergy sexual abuse, the decision by the diocese to release the list could motivate others to come forward. Or, it could simply be a source of support for survivors who have never spoken of the abuse.

“We’re always supportive of dioceses releasing these names,” Hiner said. “It will often let survivors who might be suffering in silence know that they’re not alone.”

The list the diocese released shows what the diocese did in each case.

• Campobello, ordained in 1991, was removed from ministry in 2002. He was laicized in 2005.

• Clapsaddle, ordained in 1977, was removed from ministry in January 1997, reassigned to ministry not involving minors in November 1997 and removed from ministry again in March 2002.

• Considine, ordained in 1966, was removed from ministry in 1980. He died in 1988.

• Holdren, ordained in 1971, was removed from ministry for a reason unrelated to child abuse in 1994. He died in 2018.

• Joffe, ordained in 1957, was removed from ministry in 1993. He died in 2008.

• Tully, ordained in 1925, retired in 1971 and died in 1982.

“Several of the priests named on the list and the allegations against them are not new and, over the years, have been the subject of public statements by the Rockford Diocese to affected parishes and the public, published information in The Observer Catholic newspaper, and other media reports,” the letter states. “In some cases, names of the clergy not previously disclosed appear on this list, and that is because the allegations in their regard were reviewed in the process of compiling this list and were judged to be substantiated.”

According to Malloy’s letter, the list of names will be updated as necessary and will remain available to the public on the diocese’s website.

“The people of the diocese can be assured that those clergy members who are ministering to them today in their parishes and schools and other diocesan facilities are doing so according to the diocese’s strict standards of pastoral and moral conduct,” Malloy’s letter states.

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