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Friday, September 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gonzaga Prep points out error in Jesuit list of accused priests

UPDATED: Wed., Dec. 19, 2018, 10:53 p.m.

The Rev. John Hurley, far right, with the Gonzaga High School Directors in 1955, was mistakenly listed on the Jesuits West Provice list of accused priests from the Northwest. (File/The Spokesman-Review)
The Rev. John Hurley, far right, with the Gonzaga High School Directors in 1955, was mistakenly listed on the Jesuits West Provice list of accused priests from the Northwest. (File/The Spokesman-Review)

The president of Gonzaga Prep says a widely circulated list of priests accused of sexual abuse contains at least one inaccuracy about a priest who worked at the Catholic school for 45 years.

Discrepancies in the list have some at the school concerned that “an instance of misidentification” may have tarnished the legacy of the Rev. John F. Hurley, who worked at the school from 1947 to 1992. Hurley died in 1998 and has a Gonzaga Prep scholarship fund named after him.

The Jesuits West Province published the list earlier this month, naming more than 60 accused priests with ties to the Inland Northwest.

Gonzaga Prep President Michael Dougherty said the list includes many names that became public when the former Oregon Province went bankrupt in 2011. Jesuits from the Oregon and California provinces, both of which dissolved, later reorganized as Jesuits West.

“Even though this list has been public since 2011, many members of our community are seeing this list for the first time, and we are reliving the outrage that comes with knowing that several Jesuits who once served at Gonzaga Prep have been accused of sexual abuse,” Dougherty said in a statement Tuesday.

The list includes John Hurley as well as the Rev. James P. Hurley, who was assigned to Gonzaga Prep for three years beginning in 1934 and another three years beginning in 1943. The list indicates that both men were accused of sexually abusing a minor in the late 1950s and in 1966 or 1967. The allegations were reported in 2009, almost a decade after both men died. It wasn’t immediately clear if they were related.

Dougherty said the 1950s allegation was mistakenly connected to John Hurley, and he suspects the same error led the Jesuits to place John Hurley’s name beside the 1960s claim as well.

Dougherty said Jesuits West confirmed to him that the first allegation was intended only for James Hurley. Dougherty also said the latter allegation involved an adult victim, not a minor, though that is not reflected in the Jesuits West list.

“School administration and its board of directors are awaiting further clarification from the Jesuits West Province and will act accordingly,” Dougherty said in his statement. “The school will remove from public recognition the names of any Jesuits who are associated with abuse.”

A spokeswoman for Jesuits West did not comment on the Hurley allegations in time for this story, but the province has previously acknowledged that the list may contain errors and omissions.

“Inclusion in this list does not imply that the claims are true and correct or that the accused individual has been found guilty of a crime or liable for civil claims,” the Rev. Scott Santarosa said in a Dec. 7 statement accompanying the release of the list. “In many instances, the claims were made several years or decades after the alleged events and (we) were not capable of an investigation and determination.”

Santarosa said the Oregon Province had previously published the names of all accused Jesuits when it went into bankruptcy. “Those claims were not independently investigated or verified,” he wrote. “Consequently, Jesuits West now republishes those lists of names already in the public domain.”

The province said its list will be reviewed for accuracy in the spring with help from Kathleen McChesney, a former executive assistant director of the FBI.

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