286 Texas Catholic Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse

Catholic leaders in Texas dropped a bombshell report Thursday when they collectively released the names of 286 priests and other church leaders who have been accused of sexual abuse over the last seven decades.

The announcement was part of an effort by 70 dioceses nationwide, including the 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas. It's the biggest accusation since the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report that named 300 priests who sexually abused at least 1,000 children under their supervision and protection.

Fourteen of the Texas dioceses provided names with credible accusations, while the Diocese of Fort Worth only provided an update to a list it provided in 2007—one of the first in the nation to do so at the time.

It is unclear how many of the priests identified will face prosecution, as many have already died. Marc Rylander, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general's office, said the state was ready to dismantle "this form of evil" and protect the children of the Lone Star State.

"Our office stands ready to assist local law enforcement and any district attorney's office that asks for our help in dismantling this form of evil and removing the threat of those who threaten Texas children," Rylander said. "To date, we have not received any such requests, but we are ready to provide assistance to local prosecutors in accordance with state law and original criminal jurisdiction."

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on Thursday named 42 clergymen who had been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse in the greater Houston area over the last 70 years.

The list of allegations produced by archdiocese officials includes 23 diocesan, 13 religious order and four extern priests. Two other priests on the lists are currently under investigation.

Twenty priests on the Galveston-Houston list have already died.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, penned an opinion piece in Thursday's Houston Chronicle that stated each archdiocese was to examine clergy files to pinpoint "whom we already knew, or whom we suspected had been credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

"Additionally, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has worked with law enforcement, psychological and other experts," DiNardo wrote.

DiNardo is expected to attend a summit in February called by Pope Francis to help church leaders better investigate cases, sensitize the leaders to the victims' pain and write protocols for church leaders.

The lists released in Texas, DiNardo said, were an effort to take the right steps forward and not only try to heal those who have suffered but shine a light on those accused of wrongdoings and begin the healing process for the church itself.

"The Bishops of Texas have decided to release the names of these priests at this time because it is right and just and to offer healing and hope to those who have suffered," DiNardo wrote. "On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology. Our church has been lacerated by this wound and we must take action to heal it."

The Diocese of Dallas relied on the help of retired police officers and scoured records back to 1950. The Diocese of Lubbock only went back to 1983 for its records.

Here are the lists by diocese:

286 Texas Catholic Priests Accused of Sexual Abuse | U.S.