A national group of clergy abuse victims said Wednesday that the Archdiocese of Omaha left four Catholic priests off the list of priests accused of sexual misdeeds with minors that the archdiocese made public in November.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said the four had been publicly accused of sexually abusing minors and had spent time in the Omaha area. David Clohessy, the former national director of SNAP, said Wednesday in Omaha that Archbishop George Lucas should include the four on his list.
The archdiocese said the four do not belong on the list of priests that it made public and sent to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office in November. The archdiocese had no personnel files on the four men whom Clohessy named and had received no allegations against them, said Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese.
Last year, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the state’s three Catholic dioceses to hand over any information on claims of sexual exploitation since Jan. 1, 1978.
Lucas made public a list of 38 priests and deacons against whom “substantiated allegations” had been made. He also gave the attorney general 100 more names of church personnel who had faced claims of sexual misconduct or impropriety since 1978.
Clohessy has raised similar issues in other dioceses, including in Kansas City last month. On Wednesday, he and SNAP supporter Gordon Peterson of Omaha said the Omaha Archdiocese should publicize the four priests’ names and assignment records to protect vulnerable people now and reach out to any unknown victims who might exist.
“Our position is that when it comes to the safety of kids, there should be no hairsplitting or ducking and dodging,” Clohessy said.
He said the four priests with Omaha ties are Thomas B. Laughlin, Alphonsus Ferguson, James E. Kelly and Michael Patrick Nash.
Laughlin admitted to sexually molesting dozens of boys for decades before he was convicted of molesting two boys and sent to prison in the 1980s, according to news reports. The newspaper the Oregonian reported that Laughlin was “one of Oregon’s most notorious pedophile priests.” Laughlin reportedly lived in Omaha for several years until his death in 2013.
In a 2014 lawsuit against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a Minnesota man accused Ferguson of raping him when he was an altar boy in Hastings, Minnesota, in the 1950s. Ferguson died in 1973. He reportedly belonged to a religious order in Omaha.
Kelly was accused in two lawsuits of sexually abusing a boy in the 1970s while a chaplain at Boys Town in Omaha. The lawsuits were dismissed in 2006 because the statute of limitations had expired. Kelly was removed from the priesthood by Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York, in 2003 after a man accused Kelly of sexually abusing him in the 1970s. Kelly could not immediately be reached for comment. He denied sexually abusing any children but did recall asking teenage boys to drop their pants for “a few whacks on the bare behind,” the Albany Times-Union reported in 2005.
Nash was accused of abusing boys in Alaska in the 1980s. He denied sexually abusing the boys but admitted to tickling them, having them give him foot and neck massages, making them do calisthenics in their underwear and spanking them. Nash characterized the activities as horseplay and discipline from which he received no sexual gratification but later realized was inappropriate, according to court records. Nash left the priesthood. He went to law school at Creighton University in the early 2000s. He became a lawyer in Iowa and Alaska. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.