Jeffrey D. Allred, KSL, File

Catholic diocese posts list of priests accused of child sex abuse in Utah

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - Dec 17th, 2018 @ 4:09pm



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SALT LAKE CITY — The Diocese of Salt Lake City posted on its website Monday a list of all Catholic clergy against whom credible allegations of sexual abuse involving minors have been reported since 1950.

The names includes 17 priests, one religious brother and one seminary student.

"The list of credible allegations is one step toward providing the transparency that will help repair at least some of the wounds left by the wrongful actions of priests who abused their sacred trust," Bishop Oscar A. Solis said in a statement.

"We continue to pray for the victims and their families and ask their forgiveness for our failure to protect them.”

The diocese seeks to shed light on clergy abuse allegations with the hope that it may further the healing process for those betrayed by men they believed they could trust, according to the statement.

Bishop Solis first authorized the planned release of the names in August. A review by legal counsel was required to ensure victims were not further harmed and to be sure all legal requirements were appropriately met.

Among those on the list is Father David R. Gaeta, who was placed on administrative leave as pastor of St. Peter's Catholic Church in American Fork in August.

The diocese recently concluded an investigation into allegations that Rev. Gaeta inappropriately touched two boys between 1980 and 1984 when he had a parish in Ogden. He denied the allegations, according to the diocese.

Bishop Solis, in consultation with the diocese’s Protection of Children and Young People Independent Review Board, determined that Rev. Gaeta will retire from active ministry with no faculties for further public ministry effective Jan. 1, according to the diocese. No criminal charges have been filed.

Removal of faculties means the person may no longer engage in public ministry, including dressing as a priest, presenting himself as a priest in good standing, performing public masses, hearing confessions or conducting baptisms, marriages or administering other sacraments.

The list released Monday reflects all credible allegations, according to the diocese

The diocese said it sought sufficient evidence to verify that the alleged actions could have occurred, such as the accused and the accuser being in the same area around the time the conduct is alleged to have happened. A determination that an allegation is credible is not a final determination of guilt, but grounds for further exploration, the diocese said.

The majority of the incidents occurred between 1962 and 1994, before the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” was established and implemented in 2002.

The Catholic Church has been under scrutiny regarding its treatment of sexual abuse allegations for decades, but a Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August brought renewed attention to the problem. The report outlined abuse allegations against more than 300 priests and involving around 1,000 victims.

Since August, Catholic groups and dioceses across the country have released lists of priests who were credibly accused of sexual assault in an effort to be more transparent.

Bishop Solis held a discussion this fall with Utah Catholic leaders on preventing and responding to sexual abuse and will take part in a summit on the issue hosted by Pope Francis in February.

The diocese has developed and implemented a safe environment program over the past 30 years. It has publicized standards of conduct for its priests and deacons as well as diocesan employees, volunteers and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people.

The diocese says anyone who has been a victim of abuse or exploitation by clergy, religious or lay church personnel and has not yet reported it is encouraged to call its victim assistance coordinator at 801-328-8641, ext. 344.

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