NCAC responds to accusations of child molestation confirmed by Catholic Diocese of Birmingham

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The Catholic Diocese of Birmingham released a startling list last Friday, naming six priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

While the release did include the dates they were removed from the ministry, it did not include where the priests served or what exactly they are accused of.

We have repeatedly asked the Diocese of Birmingham to provide that information, and they acknowledged our request on Friday.

By Monday, a spokesman told us they would get it to us "ASAP," but as of Tuesday, WHNT News 19 still hadn't received the information.

WHNT News 19 has called a handful of local Catholic churches to confirm whether or not any of the accused priests served locally, but we've been unable to confirm that information at this time.

Chris Newlin with the National Child Advocacy Center says while it's tough to hear, the release is progress.

"It can be sometimes re-traumatizing for individuals who've experienced it," he stated. "But I think the benefit for coming clean and being honest far outweighs that. It's just a sign of an issue that has enduring impact for many many people."

The Diocese believes its list is complete, but is asking anyone with information to come forward.

Newlin said most of child sexual abuse isn't immediately reported. "Most child sexual abuse is not disclosed in childhood," he explained. "Most of it is kept a secret until adulthood."

Newlin adds that child sex abuse has declined significantly over the last 25 years.

"It's more likely for the people over the age of 35 to have been sexually abused than people under 20," he added. "There is some consciousness that this may be a thing that grandparents really may be struggling with."

The NCAC wants to remind everyone that it's an individual's choice to come forward.

"This is an issue that thrives in darkness, that thrives in secrecy," Newlin said. "The number one thing a church can do is to talk about this issue openly in the church from a leadership prospective and encouraged those who have been harmed to come forward and that they will be accepted and supported throughout the process."

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