Thirty-Eight Nebraska Clergymen Credibly Accused Sex Abusers

Photo Credit: Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

The list that the Catholic Church published after a request in September by Attorney General Doug Peterson includes 34 priests and four deacons.

Omaha World-Herald reports that the archdiocese did so to comply with a request made in September by Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson that all three Nebraska dioceses open their personnel files for review. That request came on the heels of a damning grand jury report from Pennsylvania in which some 300 priests sexually abused more than 1,000 minors over a 70-year period.

Also on Friday, Creighton Prep announced it suspended a Jesuit priest, the Rev. Jim Sinnerud, from public ministry because of an allegation of sexual misconduct received this week. Prep said the report referred to alleged misconduct before Sinnerud’s tenure at Prep. He taught at Prep from 1987 to 2004 and more recently supervised the gym during lunch periods and served in priestly ministry. His name is not on the archdiocesan list.

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The archdiocese noted that most of the cases on its list were old and predate 2002 when a bombshell report about Catholic priest sexual abuse in Boston forced the church in the United States to acknowledge two crimes — the sexual abuse of minors and an institutional cover-up.

In a video statement released Friday, Omaha Archbishop George Lucas said he will seek a “more specific code of conduct” for clergy and other church workers “so that our clergy and all of you will understand what’s expected of us as we carry out our ministry.” “I’m sorry for what you have experienced in the church,” he said, adding: “We cannot change the sins or the betrayals of the past but we can acknowledge these ugly truths” in order to repent and avoid abuse happening again. He said the archdiocese has a zero-tolerance policy and that there is no place “for anyone guilty of abuse of a minor.”

Lucas also added that, of the 132 currently active priests and 215 active deacons that he oversees, there is only one who is the subject of a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse. That’s still one too many, but his point is that whatever problems the Church had, the Church is now handling.

There are certainly more names that belong on the list. For instance, the Rev. Jim Sinnerud is not listed. Also, old cases aren’t less important just because many victims have only recently gathered the courage to speak about the sexual crimes committed against them.

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