LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas released the names of 33 “credibly accused” priests who worked in the Las Vegas valley over the years.
The information was released as a news conference Friday.
Bishop George Leo Thomas said he wants the church to live in transparency and truth. The decision comes from his work with victim survivors.
“I have listened to these stories of victim survivors for a very long time and my take away is that often the pain and suffering victim survivors feel is still in the present tense,” he said.
Former Clark County District Attorney David Roger said it was a massive task to review the files. Prior to 1995, the Las Vegas Diocese was connected with the Reno Diocese.
“We went through 80 years of files in this process,” Roger said. “We decided to use the standard of probable cause. That is the standard law enforcement uses to justify the arrest of an individual.”
“We had 33 clergy members that were credibly accused,” Roger said. “Of that 21 clergy are now deceased and 12 members have been permanently removed from minstery.”
The issue of the money the church has paid out locally was also discussed.
“It’s accurate that somewhere between $14 million and $15 million have been paid out by our diocese since 1995,” Bishop Thomas said.
That includes settlement money for individual claims, counseling costs and attorney fees, he said.
Bishop Thomas said he wanted to offer a heartfelt apology to the victims and promise to do his best to keep anything like this from happening again. He added, any time a complaint happens, it will be forwarded directly to police. Full background checks are also done on any volunteers and employees.
“Bishop Thomas has made a commitment to protect our children. He is committed to full transparency with the public,” Roger said.
“My heart and the heart of the church is with the victim survivors,” he said.
The release of information from the diocese will continue and will likely include the number of possible victims.
“This will be a work in progress. The first stage for me was to get the names of the credibly accused out there, but we’re not finished yet,” Bishop Thomas said.
Bishop Thomas said he is challenging other churches, institutions and corporations to do the same.
“I hope you will hear the voices of the victim survivors community knowing how important transparency is and how big it is in the healing process,” Bishop Thomas said.
(Watch the entire news conference)