The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has published the names of more than 100 clergy members it says have been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors over the diocese's 166-year-history.
"This level of transparency, regrettably, took a long time. However, it is a step," said Samantha Breakstone, an associate attorney for Weitz & Luxenberg.
The diocese said Friday that the bulk of cases involved clergy ordained between 1930 and 1979 and that there've been just two cases since the Catholic Church enacted reforms in 2002.
The diocese said the 108 accused priests, deacons, and bishops represent less than five percent of clergy who've served its churches. It said about two-thirds of the people on the list are dead. The list also includes information about steps taken to curb instances of sexual abuse within the church.
"We know this list will generate many emotions for victims who have suffered terribly," Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a statement. "For their suffering, I am truly sorry."
Brooklyn's disclosure follows the release of similar lists by other dioceses. DiMarzio said he hoped having the names public will provide a layer of healing for victims "on their journey toward wholeness."
Attorneys like Breakstone, who represents survivors, believe it will help in the healing process. "Being victimized as a child is an incredibly isolating experience," she said. "Seeing these names and these photos, it gives victims and survivors knowledge that they are not alone and it encourages them to come forward and tell their story."
Attorneys say survivors were not informed ahead of the list's release, but they hope some good comes out of it.
"What we are really hoping is that this is a step in a much greater journey where now these survivors and these victims feel comfortable sharing their stories and seeking out to discuss the legal options that they have when it comes to really getting justice against those who violated them so personally," Breakstone said.
In 2004, the diocese started an independent hotline that collects abuse reports and sends them directly to local prosecutors. In 2017, the diocese established a compensation program for abuse victims.
Last year, the diocese reached a $27.5 million settlement with four men who said they were abused as boys by a volunteer parish worker.
The victims' lawyers say 67-year-old Angelo Serrano, a lay teacher of religion at St. Lucy's-St. Patrick's Church in Brooklyn repeatedly abused the victims between 2003 and 2009.
Serrano is serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty in 2011 to inappropriate course of sexual conduct with a child.
A lawyer for the men, Peter Saghir, said the diocese's disclosure of the names of accused clergy "is a positive step in the right direction." But, he said the church should go further by providing the names of others who've been accused, such as lay teachers and parochial school faculty.
"Needless to say, the revealing of these names still doesn't erase the scars and the pain that many of these victims of sexual abuse carry with them through their lives," said Saghir.
Roman Catholic dioceses in more than two dozen states have named suspected abusers in the wake of a landmark grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania. Nearly 2,000 accused clergy members and others nationwide have been identified, a review by The Associated Press found.
New York's attorney general is investigated the handling of sex abuse allegations in the Roman Catholic church and has issued subpoenas to all eight dioceses in the state.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.
Main story image courtesy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn.