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Catholic Diocese of Jackson Apologizes to Sexual Abuse Victi

Catholic Diocese of Jackson Apologizes to Sexual Abuse Victims
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Catholic Diocese of Jackson Press Conference on Sexual Abuse
Jasmine Ellis

Victims of sexual abuse in Mississippi are receiving an apology from the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. The diocese also released the names of clergy accused of sexual abuse yesterday. MPB's Jasmine Ellis reports.

There are 37 men who have been accused of sexual abuse according to the list from the Catholic Diocese of Jackson. The report includes locations where the clergy served and when it was reported to the diocese. Bishop Joseph Kopacz says he hopes releasing the list will show a new level of transparency.

"I apologize to all the victims of abuse, to their families, and to the faithful who have been hurt by this scandal," said Kopacz. "Crime of sexual abuse is a sin and has no place in our church, the body of Christ."

The Diocese says the victims were boys and girls ranging in age from five to 17 and the cases date from 1939 to 1998.

Valerie McClellan is victims assistance coordinator for the diocese. She says the church is offering help to those who were abused.

"I primarily help them find mental health support in whatever area of the country they're in," said McClellan. "There's a phone number that we publish throughout the diocese that tells them they can call me at any time... 24/7 pretty much... and ask for help."

Charles Lindsay of Jackson is a member of Saint Richard Catholic Church. The lifelong Catholic says Bishop Kopacz's apology has reaffirmed his faith in the church.

"We have got to put this horrible time in our history behind us," said Lindsay. "We have got to move forward in a way that sets a new standard going forward that does not tolerate any abuse."

The Catholic Diocese of Jackson says none of the men accused of sexual abuse are still in active ministry.