Why “credibly accused” clergy haven’t been prosecuted

Mobile County


Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich says no one has come forward to make a criminal complaint against any of the surviving clergy members listed by the local Catholic church as likely child molesters. In addition, Rich says she’s received no cooperation from the local archdiocese.

In December, Mobile Archbishop Thomas Rodi released a list of 29 priests, deacons, brothers and other church officials “credibly accused of sexual misconduct with a child” since 1950 in an effort to put the church’s sexual abuse scandal to rest.

“We have zero tolerance,” the Archbishop said. “No one with a credible accusation is going to serve in the Archdiocese of Mobile.”

Of the 29 priests and others named, however, only two ever went to prison for crimes committed here. Brother Vic Bendillo a teacher at McGill-Toolen for almost 40 years was convicted in 2004 of abusing a boy and served 28 months. Deacon Robert Nouwen who served at St. Vincent’s in Tillman’s Corner was convicted of possessing child porn in 2013 but was not charged with the rapes of two children, which he admitted to federal prosecutors.

A third, Father Norman Rogge, was convicted of sex crimes against children, both before, and after, he served at St. Ignatius from 1979 to 1981, but not for any accusations in Mobile.
Of the 29 men with credible accusations against them in Mobile, 17 are now dead.

The 12 survivors were all removed from the ministry, but most, years, if not decades after the alleged abuse. Only Nouwen has ever been prosecuted. Most of the accusations are now decades old.

District Attorney Ashley Rich, however, says in theory, those 12 clergymen could still be prosecuted.

“If a crime is a class A felony, such as rape, sodomy, sex abuse 1st degree, there’s not a statute of limitations,” Rich said.

Rich says no victims have come forward to law enforcement, and furthermore, she has received no information, no details of alleged abuse, nor any files from the Archdiocese.

“I was given the same exact documents that the media was given, and nothing more,” Rich said.

Those “documents” –  a press release –  simply listing names, when the alleged abuse occurred, and where the accused was assigned during his career.

Rich is encouraging anyone who was a victim of clergy abuse to come forward.

“No matter how long ago a crime has been committed against you, if there is no statute of limitations, then we will seek justice for you,” she said.
The Jesuit Order also recently released a list of likely offenders. Nine served at one time at Spring Hill College in Mobile, but it’s not certain if any of the alleged abuse happened here. Only two of the accused are still living.


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