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Abuse advocacy group names 23 Fresno-area priests accused of abuse

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) released a list of priests serving in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno that have been accused or sued for alleged abuse while serving in parishes.

The group named 23 priests that spent time in the Diocese of Fresno that had not been included on the Diocese’s list of alleged abuse. The list comes as additional accusers have come forward with claims against popular Bakersfield Monsignor Craig Harrison.

Of the 23, two clerics – Robert Gamell and Thomas Purcell – had been convicted of crimes stemming from alleged abuse.

One other on the list, Donald Farmer, was arrested in 2003 on allegations of engaging in lewd and lascivious acts on a minor. His case was ultimately dismissed.

Priest Miguel Flores, who most recently served at Bakersfield’s St. Joseph Catholic Church, was placed on administrative leave in March after the Diocese announced it was reopening its investigation into allegations of rape dating back to 2002.

Flores, then a priest in Hanford, was tried on those charges in Kings County and a jury found him not guilty on all counts.

The Diocese is currently in the throes of an internal review of all accusations made against priests dating back to 1922. That review is being headed up by former FBI executive assistant director Kathleen McChesney.

The Diocese tentatively announced that it would release a list of names from its review sometime this summer.

Meanwhile, district attorneys from eight counties – including Fresno, Madera, and Kern counties – are also conducting a separate audit of Diocesan records for potential cases still within the statute of limitations for prosecution.

Below is the complete list of priests accused, as provided by SNAP:

  • William Allison
  • Gaspar Bautista
  • Brian Bjorklund
  • John Bradley
  • Tod Brown
  • Stuart Campbell
  • Hermy Ceniza
  • James Collins
  • Basil Congro
  • Donald Farmer
  • Don Flickinger
  • Miguel Flores
  • Benjamin Gabriel
  • Robert Gamel
  • Louis Garcia
  • Craig Harrison
  • Anthony Herdegan
  • John Lastiri
  • Ricardo Magdeleno
  • Vincent O’ Connell
  • Joseph Pacheco
  • Thomas Purcell
  • Eric Swearingen

The list of 23 clerics was first reported by The Bakersfield Californian.

The San Joaquin Valley Sun
Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.