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These priests are accused of sexual abuse in Tri-Cities area, shows Catholic Church list

Pope tells clergy sex abusers: ‘Hand yourself over to human justice’

Pope Francis demanded that priests who have raped and molested children turn themselves in to authorities on December 21, 2018. He also vowed that the Catholic Church will no longer cover up clergy sex abuse.
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Pope Francis demanded that priests who have raped and molested children turn themselves in to authorities on December 21, 2018. He also vowed that the Catholic Church will no longer cover up clergy sex abuse.

A list of Catholic Church priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in Benton County has been made public on a new website.

The list posted by the Yakima Diocese Lay Advisory Board at bit.ly/YakimaAbuseList names 21 men who served the church in areas of central and eastern Washington under the Yakima Diocese.

Franklin County is in the Spokane Diocese and not covered by the list.

In Benton County the list shows accused priests or deacons who were assigned to Christ the King in Richland; St. Joseph in Kennewick; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Benton City and Sacred Heart in Prosser.

A majority of the men are no longer living, and none of the others remain in any church position that puts them in contact with children or other members of the public, said church officials.

The decision to release the list was made by Bishop Joseph Tyson, on the recommendation of the lay advisory board, according to Monsignor Robert Siler, chancellor with the Diocese of Yakima.

The decision was based on a desire for transparency and to encourage victims of abuse to come forward, Siler said.

Those on the list include:

Dale Calhoun, a priest who served at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Benton City and St. Joseph in Kennewick.

Multiple claims and lawsuits were settled after abuse was reported while he was serving the church. He remains a priest but has been removed from public ministry.

Robert Davalle, a deacon who served at Christ the King in Richland.

He admitted abuse of minors in settings unrelated to the church after abuse was reported while he was serving the church. He has been incarcerated.

He has been permanently removed from public ministry in the Catholic Church.

Sean Dolan, a priest who served at Christ the King in Richland.

He had died before the abuse was reported, and multiple claims and lawsuits have settled.

Brian Gallagher, a priest who served at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini in Benton City and Blessed Sacrament in Grandview.

He received treatment after abuse was reported and returned to church ministry before retiring in 1991. He has since died.

Gustavo Gomez, a priest who served at Frances X. Cabrini in Benton City, Blessed Sacrament in Grandview and Our Lady of the Desert in Mattawa.

He has been permanently removed from public ministry, and at the direction of the Vatican the process has begun to remove him from the priesthood.

Peter Hagel, a priest who served at Christ the King in Richland and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Benton City.

A civil investigation in 1980 did not result in charges and he left public ministry. He is now retired and a lawsuit is pending in a new case.

Anthony King, a priest who served at Christ the King in Richland, Sacred Heart in Prosser and St. Joseph in Sunnyside.

He had died before the abuse was reported and a lawsuit has settled.

Richard Scully, a priest at Blessed Sacrament in Grandview.

He received treatment and was returned to a different diocese. Multiple claims and lawsuits have settled, with a new lawsuit pending. He has been removed from the priesthood.

Michael Simpson, a priest at St. Michael in Royal City.

Abuse was reported after he died. One lawsuit is pending and multiple claims and lawsuits have settled.

Joseph Sondergeld, a priest at Sacred Heart in Prosser.

Allegations were made after his death and multiple claims and lawsuits have been settled.

John Tholen, a priest who served at Sacred Heart in Prosser.

He retired in 1996 and a lawsuit has been settled. He has died.

Many of the priests also had additional assignments in the Diocese of Yakima, including in Yakima, Moses Lake, Leavenworth, Ellensburg, Roslyn and Wenatchee.

The list did not indicate at which locations the abuse was reported or when priests and deacons had different assignments in the Yakima Diocese.

Allegations were considered “substantiated” and included on the list if there was an admission of guilt or a finding of guilt in the courts. In some cases, church officials may determine that there is a preponderance of evidence of sexual abuse.

Current Catholic Church policy

The Yakima Diocese has been conducting criminal background checks of clergy, religious, seminarian and other employees who have ongoing, unsupervised access to minors at church activities since 1989.

Since 2002, those employees and volunteers have been required to undergo training to recognize and respond to potential signs of sexual abuse of minors.

Allegations may be reported through a hotline by calling 888-276-4490.

The Diocese’s Victim Assistance Coordinator is often the first person to receive a report of abuse, and offers ongoing assurance and support, according to the Yakima Diocese Pastoral Office.

The diocese offers to pay for counseling for the person alleging abuse, as well as for family members, it said

In every case, the bishop offers a meeting to apologize on behalf of the church.

The church will ask for cooperation to investigate the abuse, either by law enforcement or by the diocese, if law enforcement is unable to investigate.

Senior staff writer Annette Cary covers Hanford, energy, the environment, science and health for the Tri-City Herald. She’s been a news reporter for more than 30 years in the Pacific Northwest.
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