Local connections to child sex abuse scandal unraveling in Catholic Church

Some call this major step toward accountability; others question if it's enough

RICHMOND, Va. – At least seven men with ties to southwest Virginia have been found to have credible allegations of sexual abuse against them by the Catholic Church. 

The men have ties to Roanoke, Salem, Bedford, Martinsville, Lynchburg and South Boston. 

On Wednesday, the Richmond Diocese published a list with names of 42 clergy members across Virginia with credible sexual abuse allegations against them. 


The Rev. Steven Rule, who was ordained in 1975, who served at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Roanoke and was suspended back in 2002 after he was accused of sexual misconduct. 

The claim was made by a former student in Goochland County who came forward as an adult.

"It was obviously shock, the whole ordeal of it," said Rule back in 2002 about the allegation. 

The diocese later determined the behavior did not warrant removal, so he was reinstated.

Rule, who at the time was a pastor in Chesterfield County,  was suspended again in 2011 due to sexual misconduct allegations.

According to The Associated Press, nearly 2,000 accused clergy members and others nationwide have been identified.

"Many times, when this happens to children or adolescents, they think it's their fault. They think they shouldn't have been somewhere or shouldn't have done something, and because it's an adult, particularly an adult they respect or admire, they're confused by it," said Jeanine Harper, with Stop Child Abuse Now.

Harper says this list not only helps the Catholic Church become more transparent, but it also offers a world of hope for survivors.

However, other advocates say it's not enough.

"It really gives very little information. You know, it doesn't talk about how many victims were of each perpetrator. It doesn't talk about what parishes they were in, when the accusation came forward and so forth. It's just a lot of details that are missing that I think the public needs to know," said Becky Ianni, a survivor and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Virginia leader. 

There are around 30 churches under the Diocese of Richmond in our area. The diocese says enither it nor any of the local parishes will be commenting while leaders and church members take time to pray and reflect.