‘Credible’ Abuse Claims Against Arkansas Clergy Listed, Local Parishioners Speak Out

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock has released a list of 12 clergies who served in Arkansas and have had "credible" allegations against them of sexually abusing minors.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor said the list released Monday was preliminary and the result of an internal review in the wake of a sweeping grand jury report on child sexual abuse by clergy in Pennsylvania.

"After the results of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, we realized people would like to know," Taylor said during an interview with 5NEWS.

He added that the list will be updated following an independent review of its files by an outside consulting firm.

The diocese named eight priests against whom credible allegations have been substantiated, and another four about whom it has received unsubstantiated though credible allegations. The diocese says it has offered or is offering assistance to their known victims.

Some priests on the list served in the River Valley and Northwest Arkansas, including Nicholas Fuhrman, Edward Mooney, John McDaniel, Robert Dagwell and Joseph Correnti.

All but Fuhrman are deceased, and Fuhrman was permanently removed and barred from active ministry in 2002.

Correnti served in several parishes in our area: Immaculate Conception in Fort Smith from 1972-1974; St. Raphael in Springdale from 1996-2001; and St. Joseph in Tontitown from 1995-2002.

On Tuesday (Sept. 11), after delivering mass at St. Joseph, Taylor held a meeting to discuss the list and the allegations against the priests.

The gathering at times turned heated, particularly when Taylor announced that the church must move a shrine to Correnti put up at a nearby cemetery following his suicide in 2002.

Patricia Mansell was once a parishioner at the Tontitown church and said she was shocked by the revelations.

"Very much disbelief, because I had never anything against him before," Mansell said. But, she said her heart also hurts for the two victims who came forward with abuse allegations against Correnti in 2014.

"It makes me sad to think that somebody here was hurt by him because it does take years to let go," Mansell said.

During an interview with 5NEWS Taylor admitted the legacy Correnti had at the Tontitown parish and wanted to be at Tuesday's meeting for those who had questions.

"We've got to speak the truth," Taylor said. "[Correnti's] name was on the list, and I wanted to be here with people, and to gather to pray for him, to pray for his victims, and also to consider to bring forward the process of healing for this community."

The diocese has requested the services of a third-party to launch an independent investigation into church files to identify other priests who have faced sexual abuse allegations.

Taylor said he does "expect more people to come forward."