The Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma released a report this afternoon containing 11 names of clerics “credibly accused of sexual abuse against a minor” since its establishment in 1973.
Nine priests and two deacons were named in the list (embedded below). Of those, seven are noted as dead, three others are noted as having been removed from active ministry and one — John Jangam — is listed as having “returned to India” where his priesthood status is “unknown.”
“Though this may be a difficult path, I believe that this is the best path to bring healing and to restore trust,” said Bishop David Konderla of the Tulsa diocese in a YouTube video also published Wednesday. “On behalf of the church in eastern Oklahoma, I apologize to all victims and their families.”
In the video above, Konderla referenced his “deepest hope” that releasing the names will be a step toward the healing of the survivors, their families and the church.
“It is difficult to express the sorrow and shame I feel that some of our children were hurt by those who claimed to have stood for the love and grace of Jesus Christ and by we — our leaders — who failed to protect them,” Konderla said.
In the eight-page report below, Konderla said the Tulsa diocese now trains each priest, deacon, seminarian, diaconate candidate, lay employee and volunteer to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and how to report suspected abuse to local authorities immediately, as required by state law.
“We seek to employ the best practices in child and youth protection and routinely submit to reviews by independent auditors to ensure complete compliance,” Konderla said. “I also reiterate my pledge to follow a strict policy of zero tolerance.”
Those named in the Tulsa diocese report Wednesday are:
- Harry Bartnik (deceased 2000)
- Edmund Byrne (deceased 1991)
- Lawrence Courtright (removed 2002)
- Timothy Daley (removed 1999, returned to “lay state” 2004, deceased 2004)
- Kenneth Lewis (removed 2002, dismissed 2007)
- Vincent McGouldrick (deceased 1994)
- Sid Starr (removed 2009)
- Morris Dale Vanderford (removed 1992, deceased 1998)
- John Jangam (unknown status)
- James Greenwell (deceased 2012)
- Robert Poandl (deceased 2019)
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is expected to release its list of clerics accused of sexual abuse Thursday.
Previous convictions of Oklahoma clerics
Konderla referred to sexual assault in the Catholic Church as a “scourge,” the shocking reach of which has largely been revealed over the past two decades. Vanderford was convicted in 1993 of sexually abusing two boys. Sentenced to 60 years in prison, Vanderford died there in 1998.
The only other Catholic leader convicted of sexual abuse in Oklahoma appears to have been former Lincoln County Judge Robert L. Foster.
Foster was 73 years old at the time when he was a deacon at Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Meeker and sexually abused a 12-year-old girl in his home on the night of April 4, 1997.
As a deacon at the girl’s church, Foster befriended her parents who let him take the girl and her 9-year-old sister to a movie in Oklahoma City. They stayed the night at his home in Chandler.
After putting the younger sister to bed, Foster molested the older girl and tried to talk her into letting him take pictures of her breasts.
“Foster told her that no one would find out and that he would hide the pictures in a place where no one would find them,” an affidavit alleged at the time. “Mr. Foster told her that he had photographed other girls before.”
Foster was charged with lewd molestation but sentenced to a five-year deferred sentence, ordered to obtain 25 hours of of counseling from an Oklahoma licensed psychologist or psychiatrist and directed to stay away from the girl. If he met those conditions, Foster would have had no criminal record.
However, Foster violated the order by stalking the girl three separate times just two years later. For the first occasion, the girl testified she and her father were leaving the gym when she saw Foster drive slowly in front of them, almost stopping, before driving away on Feb 1, 1999, according to an article from The Oklahoman.
Foster was then given a revised five-year suspended sentence for not staying away from the girl. He was also ordered to serve 100 hours of community service.
Foster died on Jan. 30, 2003, at age 77.