On Thursday, a group of Catholic Church sexual abuse survivors revealed a public list of 312 clergy and non-ordained church staff of the Archdiocese of San Francisco who stand credibly accused of sexual abuse, a list Archbishop Cordileone has long refused to disclose.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, leader of the Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, is an extremely judgmental, fire-and-brimstone kind of bishop. When he banned Nancy Pelosi from receiving communion wafers at all SF Catholic churches this year, he said her support for abortion rights was “a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others.” His diatribes against the LGBTQ community include his saying that the community has a “deeply problematic understanding of human sexuality and sexual behavior.” When he campaigned against same-sex marriage, he claimed that “Too many children are being hurt by our culture’s strange and increasing inability to appreciate how important it is to bring together mothers and fathers for children in one loving home.”
But Pastor “Too many children are being hurt” turns into a real quiet wallflower when it comes to priests in his own diocese accused of sexually abusing minors. As we pointed out Thursday, Cordileone is the only California archbishop who has not released the names of priests in his jurisdiction with sexual misconduct allegations, something an estimated 90% of Catholic dioceses nationwide have done to atone for past sins.
So a group of abuse survivors known as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) went ahead and released their own list of Bay Area priests accused of sexual misconduct on Thursday.
“We have compiled a list of known and publicly accused men who spent time in your Archdiocese,” SNAP said in a letter they tried to hand-deliver to Cordileone (he refused it, having a PR rep accept it). “While our list clearly does not include information from your ‘secret archives,’ it is a good start that we think will support survivors and inform public policy makers.”
And there are hundreds of SF Archdiocese priests who stand accused. “So far, SNAP has identified 312 perpetrators associated with the San Francisco Archdiocese,” according to the letter.
Before we get to the names, we should note that about 30% of the accused perpetrators are from churches that used to be in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, but aren’t anymore. (The archdiocese used to include churches in Monterey, Fresno, and a few other cities, though has since restructured.) Still, 229 of the accused priests did serve in churches in the current Archdiocese of San Francisco, which includes San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo Counties. And of those, 68 of the accused did have assignments in grade schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges.
Here is the list of 312 accused clergy in the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Many are already dead; the abuse happened decades ago, but the victims are still alive and have come forward. Not all of them were full-fledged priests — some are “brothers” (which is basically priests-in-training), others are “laity” or “lay people” (which is non-ordained parishioners who still have special privileges like reading scripture during mass, or administering the communion wafers, but they still get to wear the cloth).
There are no time ranges or geographic locations described. But NBC Bay Area reports that at least three of the accused priests are still active in the Bay Area today. “Among the names on SNAP’s list are three priests who continue to serve in the Bay Area: Fr. David Ghiorso, Fr. Michael Mahoney, and Msgr. Michael Harriman,” that station reports.
But SNAP’s letter to Cordileone does contain some very specific names and geographic details, and some of the priests have served quite recently, including one who worked at USF from 2013 to 2016.
Some accused priests have already been arrested and it was all over the news, like the case of Father Wilputte Alanson Sherwood, arrested in San Francisco in 2008. “He fled an investigation in Arizona and surfaced in the Castro at a church where he was arrested after several years on the lam,” the letter notes. “Since any priest in the Archdiocese could wear their collars, any of those 43 could have used their faculties or the perception of their priestly legitimacy to work as supply priests or in some other fashion to gain access to children or to target adults.”
SNAP emphasizes the importance of having an official list from the church, because that’s the best way to limit repeat offenders. “Fr. Frank Ivey’s record shows that he abused at St. Boniface in San Francisco in the 1980’s but was not revealed as an abuser until 2020,” their letter states. “Research into his movements indicate he was assigned all over the west, and for a short time he was even back in San Francisco, where he was "a priest in good standing." Had Fr. Ivey been arrested in the 1980’s when he first was reported to the Church, countless children might have been spared harm.” (SFist can confirm there are media reports detailing abuse accusations against Ivey.)
"The diocese has a hotline," SNAP Northern California California Northwest leader Joey Piscitelli tells SFist. "The diocese has access to the names of all the clergy who are accused by the new callers , which they keep secret from everyone else. That would mean there are probably numerous clergy abuser names that no one else has privy to."
Yes, many of these accusations are from years ago, even before Archbishop Cordileoene’s tenure here started (he was assigned to his current leadership post in 2012). But there are good reasons that the accusations lag.
“On average, it takes until age 52 for most survivors to find the strength to report. This means that many victims from the 1980s are just now speaking out,” SNAP’s letter to Cordileone adds. “This means it is likely that survivors of abuse within your Archdiocese will be coming forward for years to come, even if no one else ever abuses in your Archdiocese again.”
And as they ominously note, “More names are certainly coming.”
Those who were abused years still have legal rights, even if the crime if beyond a statute of limitations, according to SNAP survivor support coordinator Melanie Sakoda. "I would like to remind child sex abuse victims who were hurt in California that the civil window which allows them to move forward with a lawsuit, despite being beyond the statutory limits, closes on December 31, 2022," Sakoda tells SFist. "If they do not file their complaint by then, they may not get another opportunity."
"Second, there is a civil window opening on January 1, 2023, for those sexually abused as adults," she adds. "Again, anyone interested in filing a lawsuit for damages should consult with an attorney so they can come forward before that window ends."
If you or someone you love is suffering from the effects of abuse, you can contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) online or at 1-800-656-4673. If the abuse involves the Catholic Church, you can contact SNAP at 1-877-SNAP-HEALS (1-877-762-7432).
This post has been updated with comment fron SNAP representatives.