ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - On Thursday, The Archdiocese of Anchorage released the names of 14 people that an independent commission says were credibly accused of sexual misconduct involving minors and/or vulnerable adults, with some cases dating as far back as 1956.
"It is with great shame that I stand here today, as a representative of the church ... to offer this apology to you." said Andrew Bellisario, a bishop and the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese.
The commission responsible for the list of names was comprised of three officials that the church says are familiar with law: a former police chief from Soldotna, a former prosecutor with experience in child crimes and a former superior court judge. They began the investigation into claims of abuse by priests and laypeople in October of 2019, at the request of then-Archbishop Paul Ettiene. According to the archdiocese, the group was given hundreds of names and claims, along with access to all files maintained by the diocese since it was founded in 1966.
The full report can be found here.
"Every name on that report, the commission put there," Bellisario said. "Every date, each accusation ... Everything that is on there has been put by this independent commission and not by me or any representative of the Catholic Church or anyone here."
Of the 14 people listed, seven have since died. Of the remaining 7, none remain involved in service of the archdiocese. KTUU located mentions of half of the listed individuals in articles and archive footage related to past accusations and lawsuits. The Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Andrew Ballisario told the press on Thursday that 3 to 4 of the men named had not been identified as offenders prior to this report. When asked about the report's indications that a man named Robert Leising had viewed child pornography in 2015, Ballisario said he is unsure why criminal charges had not been filed. The attorney general's office has been provided a full copy of the report.
The report failed to identify any instances of culpability or attempted cover-ups from the church.
According to Bellisario, the Ad hoc commission has reviewed all relevant files and information, but will remain on stand by in the event that additional investigations are necessary. The bishop encourages anyone who may have been a victim of abuse or misconduct by a member of the church to make their case known, to both the archdiocese and law enforcement, immediately.
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