8 priests and deacons once assigned to Grant County named as abusers

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GRANT COUNTY — The Catholic Diocese of Yakima has published a website naming 21 priests and deacons who face substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of children during their assignments to parishes in Central Washington.

“Bishop Joseph Tyson, after thorough consultation and upon the recommendation of the Yakima Diocese Lay Advisory Board, has established a website listing the names of priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor during their time of ministry within the Diocese of Yakima,” said Monsignor Robert Siler, chancellor for the diocese, in an email to media.

Other reporting has incorrectly stated that the website includes a complete list of priests and clergy members who committed child sexual abuse while in the Yakima Diocese. The list only includes clergymen who faced allegations that have been substantiated, whether by an admission of guilt, a guilty verdict in criminal proceedings, or by a church investigation finding the claims are “more likely true than not, or that such a finding is supported by a preponderance of the evidence,” according to the diocese.

The Most Rev. Joseph Tyson, Bishop of Yakima, writes that the list of “substantiated” claims may be incomplete and suggests that more allegations may currently be under investigation.

“Despite our best efforts to assure that this information is accurate and complete, we know that this list may include errors or be incomplete,” Tyson wrote on the website. “It will be updated as new information is received or identified, or allegations are substantiated after investigation and review in consultation with our Diocesan Lay Advisory Board.”

Additionally, Tyson writes that while most of the claims are considered “substantiated,” some of the clergy included may have been falsely reported but were publicly named in litigation. In another five cases, the diocese claims that reported abuse could not be substantiated, due in some cases to an unavailability of information or a deceased alleged perpetrator, and those accused clergymen are not included on the list.

According to the diocese, it published the list “in the interest of further transparency and accountability, and to continue to encourage those who have suffered sexual abuse by those working on behalf of the Church to come forward.”

In an email to media, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which has pushed the diocese towards transparency regarding priests accused of abusing children, stated that while the disclosure was a good first step, more needs to be done.

“The list put out by the Diocese of Yakima is a start, yet it lacks critical information, such as information regarding when the allegations were first received by the diocese and what steps were taken in response to those allegations,” the group wrote in a statement. “Such data is critical to understanding what went wrong in the past, who was involved in the wrongdoing, and what must be done to prevent cases of abuse in the future.”

Of the men accused of sexual abuse of children, only Gustavo Gomez and Dale Calhoun are still alive. Gomez, who was assigned to Our Lady of the Desert in Mattawa, among other parishes, is facing an administrative penal process at the direction of the Vatican, and could face laicization (removal from the clergy), according to the diocese.

The priests named in the list who have at one point been assigned to a parish in Grant County, as well as the names of the county parishes they were assigned to, include:

• Gustavo Gomez: Permanently removed from priestly ministry, possibly facing laicization. Assigned to Our Lady of the Desert, Mattawa

• Hilario Ramirez: Assigned to Our Lady of Fatima, Moses Lake; Queen of All Saints, Warden

• John Tholen: Deceased. Assigned to St. Rose of Lima, Ephrata; St. Pius X, Quincy

• Michael Simpson: Deceased. Assigned to St. Michael, Royal City

• James Kovalik: Deceased. Assigned to St. Pius X, Quincy

• Anthony King: Deceased. Assigned to Our Lady of Fatima, Moses Lake; St. Pius X, Quincy

• Brian Gallagher: Deceased. Assigned to St. Pius X, Quincy

• Dale Calhoun: Permanently removed from ministry. Assigned to St. Rose of Lima, Ephrata

An article detailing the accusations against these men will be published Friday.

Emry Dinman can be reached via email at edinman@columbiabasinherald.com.

Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Dale Calhoun was deceased. He is not. The story has been corrected to reflect this.

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