The Archdiocese of Atlanta has released the names of 15 priests, seminarians, and those under direct authority of a religious order “credibly” accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
The list, which was released Tuesday, is available on the archdiocese’s website (archatl.com/offices/child-and-youth-protection/list/).
Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said in the document that he released the names “in the spirit of transparency and the hope of continued healing for the survivors of abuse.”
The Roman Catholic Church has been reeling from a damning Pennsylvania grand jury report released this summer that outlined decades of sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by church authorities.
Since then, Catholics have demanded accountability, transparency and, in some cases, resignations or criminal charges. Experts say other dioceses or archdioceses across the nation have also been releasing more information about priests accused of sexual abuse.
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Gregory said the list was compiled from the best information “available to us at this time, and covers the period from the establishment of the Diocese of Atlanta in 1956 … until now.” It became an archdiocese in 1962.
The list is divided into three parts:
Priests and others under the direct authority of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, where a credible allegation has been made involving conduct within the archdiocese.
Priests and others under the direct authority of a religious order, but assigned to the archdiocese where there was a credible allegation of sexual abuse.
And priests and others where the archdiocese has not received an allegation of sexual abuse regarding conduct within the archdiocese, but where there was a credible allegation made against them elsewhere.
The list, which will be updated as new allegations deemed credible arise, was prepared based on recommendation of the Archdiocesan Review Board, comprised of laypersons and not employed by the archdiocese.
Several people who work with survivors of clergy sexual abuse were skeptical of the numbers released.
“Wow,” said Robert Hoatson, a former Catholic priest who now heads the New Jersey-based national sexual abuse advocacy group Road to Recovery. “My goodness, there have to be many more for an archdiocese the size of Atlanta and from 1956 to now. I’m confounded, frankly. To me, this list is much too short.”
Names includes Father Anton Mowat, a former Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty in 1990 to molesting four altar boys at a Stone Mountain rectory and was sentenced to six years in prison and nine years of probation. Mowat spend time at Saint Francis of Assisi (in the Diocese of Northamptonshire in England) and from 1985 to 1987 at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in DeKalb County.
According to a 1997 story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mowat was a fugitive in Europe for 21 months following the original felony charges. Prosecutors accused the church of helping hide Mowat.
He lived in England for a while but was extradited to the United States for allegedly breaking his probation by molesting a boy there.
It also includes the name of Father Stanley Dominic Idziak.
Idziak, who died in 2017, served at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody from 1978 to 1981; Corpus Christi Catholic Church from 1981 to 1985; and St. Michael’s in Gainesville from 1985 to 1988, according to the archdiocese.
He was removed from the ministry.
Of those named, several have died and others have been removed — some permanently — from the ministry. It’s not clear from the document where the men who are still alive currently reside.
The archdiocese could not be reached for further comment, or to define what is meant by “credible.”
The release of the list comes shortly before the 2018 Fall General Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will be held Nov. 12-14 in Baltimore.
During the assembly, the bishops will discuss and vote on a series of measures to address the abuse crisis, such as a third-party reporting mechanism, standards of conduct for bishops, and protocols for bishops who resign or are removed because of abuse.
Tim Lennon, president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), applauded the release of the information.
“It provides an opportunity for people who have been victims to see the names of their perpetrators posted,” said Lennon. “It also provides an opportunity for those who don’t see the names to come forward to the police. The troubling thing is that they could have released this report six months ago, a year ago, or five years ago.”