Attorneys with Jeff Anderson & Associates recently released a report containing the names, photos and information of 109 clergy accused of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Phoenix.
The 65-page report includes six individuals who at some point worked at churches in Glendale.
“It is time for transparency, and it is time for disclosure,” said Jeff Anderson, whose law firm advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse.
“The reason why we are here today and disseminating this information is because there has not been a full accounting by the Catholic diocese in Phoenix of all the names that should have been disclosed by the Catholic bishops, past and present.”
The report includes assignment histories and details of accusations. Also included are those who were assigned to or living within the Dioceses of Gallup and Tucson before the formation of the Diocese of Phoenix in 1969.
The law firm’s compendium — the first of its kind in Arizona — includes 40 clergy members who are not on the lists of credibly accused priests that are posted on the websites of the Dioceses of Phoenix, Gallup and Tucson. It also includes information that’s not available through the dioceses, such as charges filed against the priests and their current whereabouts.
Among the 109 clergy in the document are six who worked in Glendale.
Father John “Jack” D. Spaulding worked at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale from 1973 to 1975, and St. Helen in Glendale from 1979 to 1980. The alleged abuse occurred at both churches. In 2011 his faculties were suspended and he was placed on administrative leave, and in 2014 a special tribunal recommended he be laicized. It is believed he may be living in Phoenix, but his status as a priest is unknown.
Father Wilputte Alanson “Lan” Sherwood worked at St. Louis the King in Glendale from 1979 to 1982. The alleged abuse occurred around 1987 while he worked at St. Benedict in Chandler. In 1993 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He died in 2018.
Father Henry Perez worked at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale from 1983 to 1984. The alleged abuse occurred from the late 1970s to the early 1980s while he worked in the Diocese of Phoenix. He died in 2003, shortly after he was indicted on six felony charges of sexual conduct with a minor and one misdemeanor charge of public sexual indecency.
Father Richard N. Ohlemacher worked at St. Louis the King in Glendale from 1987 to 1992. The timeline and location of the alleged abuse was not specified. He retired in 1992, but reportedly continued to help out at Phoenix-area churches until he was removed from public ministry in 2002 by the Crosiers due to allegations. He died in 2005.
Father Patrick O. Colleary worked at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glendale from 1992 to 2003. The alleged abuse occurred in 1978 while he worked at Holy Spirit in Tempe. He is currently believed to be living in Lockport, Illinois, but his status as a priest is unknown.
Deacon Ronald Gonzalez began working at St. Thomas More in Glendale in 2003. The alleged abuse occurred while he worked in Texas and Pennsylvania, though the timeline was not specified. He was reportedly removed from the Diocese of Phoenix in 2013 due to the allegations. His current whereabouts are unknown.
According to the report, inquiries with the Diocese of Phoenix began in 2002, when a Maricopa County grand jury launched an investigation relating to sexual misconduct by diocesan personnel.
The grand jury’s investigation found no credible evidence of former Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien’s direct involvement in sexual misconduct, but it deemed he failed to protect victims.
Such investigations have intensified across the nation over the past year, sparked by the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report that led to the conviction of more than 300 Roman Catholic priests in the state and uncovered more than 60 years of coverups by church leaders.
Arizona passed a law in late May that allows survivors of child sex abuse an additional 10 years to sue their abusers. Previously, survivors had until age 20 to bring charges.
Former speed skater Bridie Farrell was also present during the report’s release, and talked about the bill. Farrell has become an advocate for sexual abuse victims, after she herself was abused as a teenager by a former teammate.
Farrell spoke about the impact of the new law in conjunction with the new report.
“I’ve learned a lot about your state since I’ve been here, including your five C’s. I think you should add a sixth, and that’s compassion,” Farrell said. “We’re going to see a groundswell of strength and courage from Arizona voices who are going to come forward and it’s going to make it safer for everyone.”
Speakers emphasized that the report allowed survivors of abuse in Arizona to access a database so they can do their own analysis. Former Catholic priest Patrick Wall said that, although the report focused on the diocese, it should be seen as a window into institutional responses.
“This is not just about the Catholic Church. This is about institutional response to childhood sexual assault,” Wall said. “You can see how the patterns and practices work.”
According to the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests website, 20 states are pursuing active investigations that feature hotlines or online services for reporting clergy-related abuse. Arizona is not one of them.
Survivor and network president Tim Lennon said he has contacted the Arizona attorney general by email and in person about starting an investigation in the state, which would include the creation of a dedicated hotline.
“Hotlines are more accessible. There’s less sharing,” Lennon said. “It’s also easy. It relieves some of the responsibility of hiring an attorney.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted in early June to create a national hotline where survivors can report clergy-related sexual abuse. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network has featured a confidential national hotline since 1994.
The number is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
To view the full document, visit https://bit.ly/2KMYjWo.