Bishop:'Lubbock clergy could be on list of accused priests' - FOX34 Lubbock

Bishop:'Lubbock clergy could be on list of accused priests'

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Texas Catholic dioceses plans to release names of clergy credibly accused of sexually assaulting a minor by the end of January. The accusations will date back to 1950. With more than 8 million Catholics in our state, and nearly 4,000 clergy, it is a tall order. 

On this list, Bishop Robert Coerver expects cases from here in Lubbock.

"It will be part of what we reveal," Coerver said. "I don't know that there are too many. We've gotta have objective people go through our files."

Coerver said it is a step the church is willing to take to ensure children are safe. 

"We're giving a whole lot more credence to civil law and to civil society norms and expectations," Coerver said. "In the past, I'm afraid the church might have felt they're above those expectations and now we've discovered that we can't be and we shouldn't be."

For Lubbock rape crisis center, Voice of Hope, 38 percent of it's cases in 2017 were minors. Community Outreach Coordinator Leslie Timmons believes it is important for any religious entity to create a safe environment for victims.

"You know the victims that might have been affected are probably in that age range when the assault took, place," Timmons said. "You know we're just here to offer support for the community to offer victims help."

Coerver said the diocese is working to offer healing within the church. There is now a victims assistance coordinator who is dedicated to tending to those claiming abuse.

"We've got our safe environment training that all of our clergy, all of our staff, most of our volunteers have to go through and it's an extensive training program that involves background check as well," Coerver said.

Coerver encourages survivors to report abuse so the proper steps can be taken before a list is released. 

"We are doing this out a sense of transparency and accountability, and my hope and prayer is that we can move forward with justice and sense of reparation, but also maintaining principles of mercy and compassion," Coerver said.

The Diocese of Lubbock was founded in 1983 and this list will go back as early as 1950. Coerver said cases within that 30 year gap would have been reporter in either Amarillo or San Angelo. 

Via Diocese of Lubbock:

To report known or suspected neglect or abuse of a minor (under age 18) or vulnerable adult, call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Child/Vulnerable Adult Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or your local law enforcement agency. If there is an immediate danger, call 911.

Once Local Law Enforcement Agency, 911 and/or the Child Abuse/Vulnerable Adult hotline has been called regarding present or past sexual abuse or sexual assault allegedly by any clergy, religious, diocesan/parish employee or volunteer, contact the Diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator, Oscar Reyes at 806-543-9178 who will initiate diocesan procedures.

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