Catholic Bishop Andrew Bellisario speaks at a news conference Thursday in Anchorage announcing a review commissioned by the Archdiocese of Anchorage found credible evidence of sexual misconduct by 14 people who served in the archdiocese dating to 1966. (AP Photo | Mark Thiessen)

Catholic Bishop Andrew Bellisario speaks at a news conference Thursday in Anchorage announcing a review commissioned by the Archdiocese of Anchorage found credible evidence of sexual misconduct by 14 people who served in the archdiocese dating to 1966. (AP Photo | Mark Thiessen)

14 with church ties named in Alaska misconduct review

A review found credible evidence by 14 people who served in the archdiocese dating to 1966.

A review commissioned by the Archdiocese of Anchorage found credible evidence of sexual misconduct by 14 people who served in the archdiocese dating to 1966, a church leader announced Thursday.

The findings were made by a commission that the archdiocese said included a former police chief and two former prosecutors, one of whom is also a retired judge. The commission was charged with reviewing personnel files of “clerics and religious men and women” who served in the archdiocese dating to 1966, as well as reviewing allegations of sexual misconduct of lay volunteers and employees reported to the archdiocese.

Half of those identified as credibly accused are now dead, the report states.

The report, which had limited details, included allegations of sexual misconduct involving vulnerable adults or those younger than 18 and viewing child pornography. Allegations against four of the 14 individuals identified came while serving in another diocese, according to the report.

Bishop Andrew Bellisario, at a news conference in Anchorage, addressed the victims, saying it “is with great shame that I stand here today, as a representative of the church, to offer this apology to you.”

The church is trying to be as transparent and accountable as possible and sees the release of names as “an opportunity for people to come forward for healing,” he said.

A 2018 announcement citing creation of the commission said the final report could include findings of any individuals who, “through gross negligence, failed to adequately respond” to sexual misconduct. Bellisario said no such findings were made.

“However, I think we all know … that if things would have been done the way we do them today, as opposed to the way they did them in the ’70s, the ‘80s and the ‘90s, I think this list would be very, very small, possibly, maybe, even nobody on that list, which would be our goal,” he said.

Maria Bahr, a state Department of Law spokeswoman, said the information in the report, which the department received Thursday, alone is not enough to evaluate any particular case, “especially when many of these cases appear to be decades old.”

The department “will coordinate with our law enforcement partners concerning any additional information that should be requested from the Archdiocese in order to properly assess the viability of any potential criminal investigations,” she said.

The definition of vulnerable adult used for the report is someone who is infirm, unable to exercise personal freedom “even on occasion and has a limited capacity to understand or resist the crime.”

Among those named and listed as dead are Rene Astruc, Francis Murphy, Bernard Oosterman, Gerard Ryan, Robert Wells, Francis Cowgill and Angus McDonald.

Cowgill and McDonald are among the four the commission determined had credible evidence of misconduct while serving in another location, along with Tim Crowley and James Murphy. Cowgill, who died in 2000, was named in a review previously released by the Diocese of Juneau.

According to the report,

—Astruc, who died in 2002, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor and vulnerable adult; the report includes the date of 1976;

—Francis Murphy, who died in 2012, was accused of sexual misconduct involving minors, 1966-1979;

—Oosterman, who died in 2011, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor, 1978;

—Ryan, who died last year, was accused of sexual misconduct involving minors, 1971-1972;

—Wells, who died in 1992, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor, 1977-1986;

— Cowgill was accused of sexual misconduct involving minors, 1956-1964; and

—McDonald, who died in 1988, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a vulnerable adult, 1976.

The report identifies the others as Stanley Allie, Manuel Castro, Michael Hornick, James Laudwein, Robert Leising, Crowley and James Murphy.

Crowley declined comment Thursday. A man who answered a listing for James Murphy did not respond to the allegations. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach the other five men Thursday were not immediately successful.

According to the report:

—Allie, retired in 2000, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a vulnerable adult around 1986;

—Castro, a lay employee whose employment ended in 2013, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a vulnerable adult, 2011, and sexual misconduct involving minors outside of the Archdiocese of Anchorage;

—Hornick, dismissed as a priest in 2014, was accused of sexual misconduct involving minors and vulnerable adults, 1970s-2000s;

—Laudwein was accused of sexual misconduct involving vulnerable adults, 1989;

—Leising was accused of viewing child pornography, 2015;

—Crowley, laicized in 2015, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor, 1980s; and

—James Murphy was accused of sexual misconduct involving minors, 1965-1971.


This is an Associated Press report by Becky Bohrer. Associated Press researchers Randy Herschaft and Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

Most Read