Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2019. 6:08 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: A well-known priest, Father Oliver Smalls Jr., of the Diocese of Belize City-Belmopan was named on a list of clergymen who have allegedly committed sexual abuse against minors in Richmond, Virginia, USA according to credible allegations.
Even more shocking, the list was published by Bishop Barry Knestout of the Richmond parish, who offered deep gratitude and apologies to the victims and survivors.
“Today, consistent with my promises of transparency and accountability, I am publishing a list of clergy that have a credible and substantiated claim of sexual abuse against a minor,” Knestout’s letter said.
“I asked for an independent and comprehensive review of clergy personnel files, and the files from the Diocesan Safe Environment Office and the Diocesan Review Board.”
“To those who experienced abuse from clergy, I am truly, deeply sorry. I regret that you have to bear the burden of the damage you suffered at the hands of those you trusted. I am also sorry that you must carry the memory of that experience with you. Moreover, I apologize to family members and friends of the abused, and to all members of the Catholic Church,” the letter continued.
Smalls’ name appears under a list labeled “Religious and Priests of other Dioceses with allegation of abuse that occurred in the Catholic Diocese of Richmond”.
Many of the others priests whose names appear on the list are either deceased or have been convicted for their crimes. Smalls’ status is listed simply as ‘unknown’.
BBN understands that the Catholic Church of Belize has already been informed of the allegations against Smalls and he has been told he can no longer continue to preach as a member of the clergy.
“To the victims and to all affected by the pain of abuse, our response will always be about what we are doing, not simply what we have done. We will seek not just to be healed but will always be seeking healing. We will seek not just to be reconciled but will always be seeking reconciliation,” Bishop Knestout said.
There have not yet been any reports of such allegations against Smalls in Belize.
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