Bismarck Diocese names priests with sexual abuse claims

BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) - The Bismarck Diocese has released a list of priests who have substantiated claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor.

The list of 18 diocesan clergy and four extern clergy have all served the Diocese of Bismarck. Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan says each have claims the Diocese has determined to be likely true.

The accused clergy include:

Earl J. Becwar (died September, 1991)

Norman J. Dukart (living)

Robert E. Feeney (died April, 2006)

Theodore F. Gustin (died December, 2006)

Eugene J. Haspert (died July, 1979)

Donald W. Hill (died November, 2004)

Michael T. Krank (died November, 2010)

John H. Kuhn (died March, 2006)

Hugh C. Govern (died July, 1988)

Maurice McNeely (died July, 2017)

Frederic J. Nelson (died August, 1988)

John J. Owens (living)

James W. Pommier (died January, 2012)

James E. Reardon (died March, 2007)

Armour R. Roberts (died December, 1989)

Aloysius P. Simon (died October, 1991)

Laurence R. Talty (died August, 1989)

Steven R. Zastoupil (died July, 2018)

The accused extern clergy include:

Victor J. Heinen, OSB (died 1953)

Charles Meyer, CPPS (died December, 1997)

Michael A. Spegele, CPPS (died March, 1998)

Robert Wuest, CPPS (died March, 1988)

All names are published on the Bismarck Diocese website, and were included in a mailing to Catholic families in December.

Bishop Kagan says the Diocese of Bismarck released the names, "in the interest of transparency and accountability." Kagan goes on to say it's "part of an ongoing process of reaching out to the diocesan community, to publicly identify those priests who have carried out ministry inthe Diocese of Bismarck, and against whom there is a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor."

In mid-December, Pope Francis revoked the papal secrets law in child sex abuse cases as church leaders pushed for change in investigating the history of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.

Kagan says there has not been a substantiated claim of sexual abuse of a minor in the Bismarck diocese since 1989.