Jesuits with credible sexual abuse allegations against them named
CINCINNATI (WKRC) – A list of names released by the U.S. Midwest Jesuits Monday says 10 of them served in the Cincinnati area at some point and that five have credible evidence of abuse while working in the area.
All five of those men are now dead. Two of them worked at St. Xavier High School. The accusations against the eight others came before or after they spent time at St. X.
"If it's that long ago, why are you bothering bringing it up right now?" said St. Xavier President Tim Reilly, in regards to possible questions as to why the names were released. “Well, you know, some of those victims are alive and they need support."
Gerry Ahrens is one of them. He’s a St. X grad and says he was sexually abused at the age of 12 while in a confessional situation at a church in Milford by Fr. Robert Erpenbeck. Erpenbeck is on the list. He died in 1986.
“It was a big day to see it publicly acknowledged. Especially not only for me, but for the other victim I know of. I don't know how many victims there are, but one that I know of that was abused much worse than I was, and he's an old man. He's not in good health, so I feel very good for him,” said Ahrens.
Ahrens says it does feel good to see the names on paper.
“It’s almost somebody saying back to me, 'Yes, this really did happen to you,'" said Ahrens.
But he believes this is just the beginning.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg, because you have to begin with the fact there are thousands and thousands of victims that are too ashamed to ever come forward. They will just live with this until they die,” said Ahrens.
Reilly says since the list was released, he’s heard from alumni.
"Some people have emailed me, you know, saying they hope to see a name on the list because that would help them tremendously, and, you know, when I saw the list, probably when you did, that name was on the list, and that's a good thing,” said Reilly.
Ahrens hopes other religious orders follow the lead of the Jesuits and release the names of accused priests.
"To me, the first systemic change would be for the archbishop to take responsibility for every priest of every religious order who works in this archdiocese, because they can't work here without his permission; he's responsible for them," he said.