Catholic church updates list of credibly accused priests

Rebecca Boone

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Catholic church leaders in Idaho have updated their list of priests the church says were credibly accused of child sex abuse since the 1950s to include more details about where the clergy served when the incidents occurred.

The known allegations of child sex abuse involve 15 priests and one deacon, and they span the state geographically, including parishes in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Caldwell, McCall, Moscow, Soda Springs, Kamiah, Aberdeen, DeSmet, Wallace, St. Maries and Kellogg.

Most of the clergy served in multiple locations throughout their career. The Boise diocese did not release details about where they previously lived nor, in most cases, about where they went after they left the ministry in Idaho.

Some of the credible accusations date back to the 1950s. That's made it hard for the diocese to find some information, spokesman Gene Fadness said, in part because the people who dealt with the matter at the time have since died.

"We know that law enforcement was notified in all cases that were reported to us after 2002," Fadness wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "We cannot speak with certainty for cases before that time."

The list was first released Monday, roughly three weeks after The Associated Press published an investigation revealing that nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic church in the U.S. considers to be credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little or no oversight.

The updated list released Thursday added one priest who was left off the earlier version, corrected an entry for a priest that was previously listed twice, and corrected the diocese where one priest worked.

More than 300 priests have served in the Diocese of Boise — which includes all of Idaho — since 1950.

In 2004, then-Bishop Michael Driscoll said there were 12 priests credibly accused of child sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002, but the diocese list only includes nine from that time span. It's possible Driscoll misspoke and was perhaps talking about allegations made through 2004, Fadness said, because the dioceses' current list matches the spreadsheet Driscoll had made at the time.

Driscoll retired in 2014 and died in 2017. Bishop Peter Christensen was installed as the bishop of the diocese in 2014.

Some of accusations made against the priests on the list are well-known because they've been reported in the media before. Former Priest James Worsley was accused of several incidents of child abuse between 1976 and 1980 as he worked in Caldwell, Boise and Moscow. Worsley eventually confessed and was later defrocked after local news organizations wrote about the case in the early 1990s. Former Boise Priest Thomas Faucher, imprisoned last year for child pornography, was defrocked earlier this month.

Little information can be found about other priests on the list, such as the Rev. Donald Simmons, who was accused in 2002 of sexual abuse of a child while working at St. John's Cathedral in Boise and St. Alphonsus in Wallace in the 1950s. The Boise diocese says Simmons is now deceased.

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