HELENA, Montana — The names of former priests and other employees who were accused of sexually abusing children have been posted online by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena.
The list, posted Wednesday, is one condition of settling lawsuits filed by hundreds of people who said they were abused by priests, nuns and others dating back to the 1940s.
The list includes people who were named in the lawsuits as well as some the diocese added that had been accused internally of abuse, diocese spokesman Dan Bartleson said.
"It's difficult to think of someone you grew up with who was good to you and your family being accused of sexual abuse," Bartleson said. "But we need to make sure we err on the side of victims if in any way this could contribute to their healing or give them any kind of closure."
The diocese also agreed, as part of a bankruptcy filing, to set aside $20 million for the 362 victims named in two lawsuits along with a $920,000 trust for any victims who come forward in the future.
The list will remain on the website for 10 years, and will be updated as necessary, the Independent Record (http://bit.ly/1dwJVNw) reported.
Attorney Bryan Smith of Tamaki Law, who represented 95 victims, said posting the list makes the settlement "complete in that it is not just an exchange of money that is for the release of the claim."
"It is something more than that; it is a recognition that they are atoning for what happened," he said.
The bishop "wants to make sure the victims know that they are believed and they are respected, so the list was up to them," Bartleson added.
Much of the alleged abuse happened from the 1940s to the 1970s. The list includes 21 Diocese of Helena priests, 21 sisters and three laypersons who worked at a boarding school at St. Ignatius, six sisters who served the Diocese of Helena and 17 other priests who served in Montana.
Most of those named have died. There are 12 individuals on the list named only by first or last names that the diocese could not find in its records.
Bishop George Thomas plans to preside over reconciliation liturgies in churches across the diocese this fall, Bartleson said.
Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com
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