OKLAHOMA CITY – Following shocking allegations of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is taking action.
Recently, officials say the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City received a letter from a former resident of Oklahoma, who reported being abused by a priest of the archdiocese in the 1980s.
After receiving the letter, the archdiocese ordered a full review of the priest’s history.
On Wednesday, Archbishop Paul Coakley announced the archdiocese’s plan for reviewing and reporting all past allegations of child sexual abuse by priests.
Officials say the review will include all instances where credible allegations of child sexual abuse were reported, substantiated, prosecuted or admitted to among priests serving in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Once it is done, the report will be made public.
“This is a very dark moment in the history of our beautiful, but wounded, Catholic Church. We are called to prayer and penance for the purification of the Church and our bishops and priests must set the example. It calls for a renewed commitment to vigilance, transparency and accountability from our shepherds and indeed for the whole Church,” said the Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City. “An internal and independent review of previous allegations is a good place to start. No matter how painful this process may become, I am committed to reviewing and sharing the specifics of these cases.”
The plan will include:
- A review by the chancellor of every priest’s file – active and inactive – for priests who have served in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City since 1960 (Prior to 1972 it was the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa);
- Any file with an allegation of abuse of a minor or an abuse of power in a sexual relationship will be turned over to Ron Shinn, an attorney in the law firm of McAfee and Taft, for review;
- As an expert in internal institutional investigations, Shinn and his associates will conduct an independent review of the files and investigate further, if necessary;
- Once all files have been reviewed, McAfee and Taft will issue a report with the facts of each case and provide an analysis of how the archdiocese handled the matters over the years;
- Investigators also will provide recommendations;
- The report will be published online, and a copy sent to all priests, deacons and parish staff.
The initial report is expected to be complete in about 10 to 12 weeks. A second report, reviewing files prior to 1960, will follow.
To report abuse that occurred in the past or present, call the Abuse of Minors Pastoral Response Hotline at (405) 720-9878. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has established a statewide abuse reporting hotline at (800) 522-3511.